The Forest Hills Public Schools Chinese Immersion Program, Mandarin Bridge, is the first of its kind in West Michigan. The program, started in 2008, brings Eastern and Western teaching philosophies together in a uniquely global curriculum. The program provides students an opportunity to not only learn the world's most widely-spoken language, but to be immersed in Chinese culture and values. Students graduating from Mandarin Bridge will have unprecedented possibilities for contributing to their world by having native speaking language skills. The first class is expected to graduate in 2021.
Michigan State University's Confucius Institute is the district's educational partner in the immersion program. MSU's immersion learning model, Education for Global Citizenship (EGC) is a knowledgeable focused, child-centered teacher-directed curriculum and the basis for the Mandarin Bridge program. EGC was created in 2004 by representatives of US and Chinese educators at a conference sponsored by The George Lucas Educational Foundation at the Skywalker Ranch in California and merged best practices from both teaching styles.
Mandarin Bridge utilizes a 50-50 immersion instruction model. In kindergarten, the students spend 2 1/2 days immersed in Mandarin Chinese language and culture and 2 1/2 days in a traditional kindergarten classroom. Families can expect their students to rapidly build their English and Chinese vocabularies by the end of the kindergarten school year through singing, speaking, reading and writing. In first and second grades, students spend half of their day in the Eastern classroom learning math and science and the other half of their day in the Western classroom learning English language arts and social studies.
The Mandarin Bridge program is part of Meadow Brook Elementary school, which is located at 1450 Forest Hill Avenue SE. The immersion program operates on the school-year calendar Monday through Friday from 8:40 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The immersion program is free and applications are accepted from resident Forest Hills kindergartners who are five years old by December 1st.