Chinese Language Education in Georgia

Chinese Language Education in Georgia

Georgia Department of Education
Atlanta, GA

Program Description

The Georgia Department of Education oversees public education for more than 1.7 million students in 212 school districts. According to data from the 2018–19 school year, 45.8% were elementary school students (K–5), 23.8% were middle school students (6–8) and 30.4% were high school students (9–12). Georgia has 212 school districts, 159 county systems, 21 city systems, 29 state and commission charter schools, and 3 state schools.

During the 2017–18 school year, 7,107 Georgia Students from 57 districts were enrolled in Chinese language courses. Of those enrolled during the 2017–18 school year, 135 students took courses via virtual school, duel enrollment, or software programs. In 2018, according to College Board statistics, 181 Georgia Students took the AP Chinese Language & Culture exam with a mean score of 4.34. In 2018, 23 students from 6 districts earned the Georgia Seal of Biliteracy in Chinese.

Below are examples of some of the Chinese language programs available in Georgia.

The GLOBE Academy

The GLOBE Academy is a dual language immersion charter school in DeKalb County in Atlanta, Georgia, serving 920 students and providing Global Learning Opportunities through Balanced Education. GLOBE has a 50/50 one-way foreign language immersion program in grades K–5 with Mandarin, French, and Spanish tracks. GLOBE provides high school language instruction in grades 6-8.

The GLOBE Academy was founded in 2013, opening as a K–3 school and adding one immersion grade per year. The inaugural Kindergarten had Spanish, French, and Mandarin immersion tracks. In 2019, Mandarin immersion education is provided in grades K–5. Immersion students receive content instruction in the target language and in English (grades K–1 follow the half-day model, and grades 2–5 follow the every-other-day model). In 2019–20, GLOBE will open a grade 6 immersion class, whose students will complete grades 9 and 10 Chinese I and II; and a non-immersion grade 6 class, whose students will complete Chinese I for high school credit.

In 2015: Not long after its inception, the GLOBE Academy began to emerge as a leader, having an impact on professional Mandarin immersion teaching and teacher training not only in Georgia, but across the United States. GLOBE students have participated in several competitions throughout the state, winning first place recognition, and GLOBE teachers have participated in professional development with local Mandarin teachers in Georgia and facilitated professional development for teachers in other states.

In 2016: The students of GLOBE Mandarin teacher Ji Shuai competed in in the FLAG Spoken Language Contest for elementary students throughout the state of Georgia. Shuai’s grade 3 students competed against students in grades 4 and 5 in spoken panel interviews, where 100% of GLOBE students received a “Superior Award,” the highest ranking.

GLOBE’S second grade teacher, Helga Wang’s, student Jaycee Villalobos won first place in the GAOME written competition. Jaycee competed against students across Georgia, winning first place with his piece on the importance of being trilingual.

In 2017: GLOBE Mandarin teachers Tutu Wang, Helga Wang, Ji Shuai, and Vivian Eckmann facilitated a Mandarin teacher training at the first annual Georgia Chinese Teacher Conference at Kennesaw State University. GLOBE facilitated a workshop for new Confucius Institute teacher assistants and teachers on strategies that will help them be successful Mandarin teachers in progressive, DLI, U.S. schools.

GLOBE participated in professional development outreach with other Chinese programs in the United States. Through these efforts, teachers were able to share best practices, curricular resources, and lesson plan ideas over Skype with Union County Public Schools in North Carolina.

In 2018: Tutu Wang’s student Jaden Cheung, won first place in her age group in the GAOME essay competition.

GLOBE teachers Ying Liu, Tutu Wang, Helga Wang, and Ji Shuai participated in the FLAG Spoken Language Contest, where GLOBE students in Kindergarten and grades 1, 2, and 3 competed against students in grades 4 and 5 across Georgia in spoken panel interviews. One hundred percent of GLOBE students in Kindergarten to grade 3 achieved the “Superior Award”, the highest-level ranking, competing against students who were several grades older.

GLOBE Academy teacher Vivian Liu was recognized as Chinese Teacher of the Week by Creative Chinese, Weekly Resources for Teaching Chinese Creatively. GLOBE teachers are actively taking the initiative both within and outside the classroom and are engaged in professional development around the state and across the country.

GLOBE hosted Chinese students from Yangzhou University for professional development. These students were pursuing their degrees in Foreign Language Education. Student teachers learned about GLOBE’s unique classroom culture, pedagogy, and methodology.

In 2019: GLOBE partnered with the Georgia Department of Education to host DLI (Dual Language Immersion) in a Day. Teachers, professors, administrators, and community members from across Georgia came together to discuss program goals and best practices and to share ideas for moving forward with immersion education in Georgia.

The International Charter School of Atlanta

Mandarin is one of the four languages offered at the International Charter School of Atlanta (ICSAtlanta). The school was opened in August, 2015. As a state charter school, ICSAtlanta offers Mandarin immersion education to all students residing in the state of Georgia. ICSAtlanta currently has over 120 students who are learning Mandarin. Among them, 101 students are in Kindergarten through grade 5 classes.

Students are immersed in an authentic Mandarin classroom and participate in many cultural exposures such as Chinese New Year celebrations, Moon Cake festivals, and connecting with students in China. Additionally, K–5 students explore language, culture, and Georgia standards in an inquiry-based setting. ICSAtlanta is an IB Primary Years Program (PYP) Candidate school.

Savannah Chatham County Public School System

The Chinese language program started in Savannah nearly a decade ago. The first courses were offered at Sol C. Johnson High School as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. A Chinese teacher was added at Coastal Middle School (also an IB school) a few years later.

Haven Elementary School is home to a new Chinese Dual Language Immersion program, which began in the 2018–19 school year in Kindergarten. Dual Language Immersion students spend half of their day in Chinese and the other half in English. Their Chinese half day focuses on language, math, and science. Non-DLI students have an opportunity to practice Chinese once per week for 45 minutes.

Chinese programs in the middle grades focus on teaching Connections Chinese, which includes language and culture.

Chinese high school programs in SCPSS focus on Chinese at levels I and II only. At Sol C Johnson High School, the International Baccalaureate Programme offers students the opportunity to learn Chinese ab initio, which is an advanced Chinese language course. International Baccalaureate Programs offer a more robust global education with a heavier emphasis on world languages.

In 2014, the Savannah Chatham Public School System began to expand the program and added more College Board Guest Teachers to more middle schools (Mercer and Southwest). In 2017, SCCPSS completed an agreement with the Confucius Institute at Savannah State University to supply Chinese teachers to Myers and DeRenne Middle Schools. In 2018–19, programs have expanded to include Chinese language at Marshpoint Elementary School, Islands High School, and a new Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program at Haven Elementary School. The System is also adding more teachers in 2019–20 in order to grow the DLI program and begin a new program at the East Broad Pre-K Center.

In 2015 and 2016, SCCPSS hosted two groups of Sino-American Youth Ambassadors. These high school students spent two weeks in Savannah-area schools and lived with local host families.

In 2017 and 2018, representatives from Savannah State University and SCCPSS traveled to China as part of a Bridge Delegation with a partner university in Jiujiang, and two SCCPSS teachers traveled to China with the Chinese Bridge Delegation.

Two of Savannah’s Chinese teachers have been recognized for their work at the state level. Claire Guo from Mercer was recognized as the Georgia Department of Education World Language Teacher of the Month in 2018, and Shuyu Liu at DeRenne Middle School was awarded the Teacher of Promise Award for 2019 from the Foreign Language Association of Georgia (FLAG).

Program Leaders

Georgia Department of Education
Mr. Patrick Wallace
World Languages and Global Workforce Initiatives, Georgia Department of Education

The GLOBE Academy
Ms. Christi Elliott-Earby, Head of School
Ms. Sandra Daniel, Language Coordinator

International Charter School of Atlanta
Yuan Chen, Lead Mandarin teacher, International Charter School of Atlanta,
Barbara Wiren, Upper Campus Director, International Charter School of Atlanta
Severine Plesnarski, Lower Campus Director, International Charter School of Atlanta

Savannah Chatham County Public School System
Dr. M. Ann Levett, Superintendent
Dr. Vallerie Cave, Executive Director for Elementary and K–8 Governance
Dr. Peggy Blood, Confucius Institute at Savannah State University
Dr. Mark Linsky, Specialist for World Languages
Mr. Josh Bramble, College Board Guest Teacher Program

All Program Profiles

Profiles of specific early language and immersion programs.