Yinghua Academy Chinese Immersion Charter School
Serves students in grades K–8
Watch an excerpt from Yinghua’s 2016 Lunar New Year production of The Monkey King (logo and production by idream.tv)
Luyi Lien, Ph.D., Academic Director
Susan M. Berg, Executive Director/CEO
Yinghua Academy, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was founded in 2006, as the first Chinese immersion public charter school in the United States and the first Chinese immersion school of any type in the Midwest. Yinghua serves students in grades K–4 with a full immersion curriculum. Introduction of English language teaching is delayed until grade 2. In grades 5 through 8, instruction switches to a 50 percent Chinese, 50 percent English model. Older students have the opportunity to travel on a 15-day trip to China, which includes home stays in Inner Mongolia.
Yinghua's unique program and consistent academic success have enabled the school to enjoy robust growth, with 742 students and 53 teachers in 2016. A significant building addition in 2014 doubled the school's square footage. The new state-of-the-art facilities include a middle school wing, music classrooms, an art studio, a science lab, and a full-size gymnasium.
Since its founding ten years ago, Yinghua has produced an annual Lunar New Year show highlighting Chinese culture in song, dance, and drama. Every student participates in the costumed production held at Benson Great Hall, which seats more than 1,700 people. Yinghua filled nearly every seat at two showings in 2016. In addition, during the Spring Festival weeks, students sample dumplings and receive apples, oranges, and candy-filled red envelopes from their teachers.
The school's study abroad program for students in grades 6–8 has grown steadily, with 26 students planning to travel in the summer of 2016. Students are expected to speak Chinese during the entire 15-day trip and meet weekly with the Academic Director in the three months prior to travel to participate in trip planning and etiquette training. Students report that the homestays with families from Hohhot Middle School Number 8 in Inner Mongolia are a highlight of the trip. In 2015, the 15 student travelers were a hit at a Beijing Hanban summer conference, a gathering devoted to preparing new Chinese teachers to work in the United States.
Families of Yinghua students live in 97 different zip codes in the Twin Cities and arrive via 8 Yinghua school bus routes. With such a large area that is served, after-school programs have become an essential aspect of Yinghua culture. Approximately half of the student body participate in athletics; homework-completion sessions; enrichment courses; and a Music Conservatory that offers private lessons in erhu, piano, percussion, guitar, flute, voice, and Western stringed instruments. Programs that end around 6:00 p.m. daily help working families, many of whom travel great distances to reach Yinghua, and students deepen their friendships despite not living near one another.
STARTALK programs for students and teachers are a hallmark of Yinghua summers. In cooperation with the Minnesota Online High School, an advanced Chinese summer program was developed for Chinese immersion middle and high school students. Students may begin Advanced Chinese 1A and B and 2A and B during a three-week summer course and continue these courses for high school credit at any Minnesota high school.
Yinghua ranks in the top 10 percent of all Minnesota schools based on the Multiple Measurement Rating data compiled, analyzed, and released by the Minnesota Department of Education each year.
Funding includes a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant in 2009, to support the development of the middle school program and a 2007 World Language grant from the State of Minnesota to support the development of the elementary school program.
Awards and Recognition
In 2014, Yinghua was one of 5 schools out of more than 800 worldwide to receive a Confucius Classroom of the Year award. In 2015 the U.S. Department of Education awarded Yinghua National Blue Ribbon School status, which few immersion programs have achieved.
Yinghua Academy Executive Director/CEO