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Mandarin Immersion Program

Program Overview


The Lake Forest K-12 Mandarin Program was recently recognized by the U.S.-founded Asia Society with the distinction of “Confucius Classroom”. This honor has only been given to 100 schools or districts in the United States and is due in large part to the district’s Mandarin Immersion Program.


The program is now in its second successful year and boasts an enrollment of over 110 kindergarten, first, and second grade students. Housed at Cherokee Elementary School, the district provides free bussing to make this language immersion option available to all district families. Students engage in a partial immersion program with 50% of their day in the Mandarin-speaking classroom and 50% of their day in the English-speaking classroom. Mandarin teachers instruct in mathematics, Chinese culture, and portions of social studies and science. Partner English teachers deliver instruction in language arts (reading, writing, and spelling) as well as portions of social studies, science, and math.


Immersion students rarely hear their Mandarin teachers speak English. Everything in the classroom is done in Mandarin regardless of the activity or curricular area of study. The Mandarin-speaking teachers use multiple strategies such as pictures, songs, video, models, body language, games, etc. to communicate and engage students. Students are allowed to speak English to their classmates and Mandarin teacher, however social exchanges and short responses in Mandarin are commonplace even in kindergarten. Students are very proud and excited to speak the language, write Chinese characters, and show understanding of what their teacher is saying. As acquisition of the language grows, students show more confidence in their skills and quickly become comfortable in speaking Chinese.

By the fall of 2014, two Mandarin immersion classes will be added to each subsequent grade level through fourth grade. Upon entering Deer Path Middle School, our Mandarin-speaking students will follow a regular class schedule with the offering of advanced language training in a daily Mandarin class. Initially choosing the immersion program will not exclude children from switching later to another world language in fourth or ninth grade, at the same times when all district students make their language choices.


The immersion program provides a wonderful opportunity for District 67 children to become bilingual. Learning to speak, read, and write Chinese, will provide them with a unique skill set to prepare them participation in today and tomorrow’s competitive global marketplace. This opportunity is open to all District 67 K-2 students. Registration information for the Kindergarten Mandarin Immersion Program can be found here.