Little Tiger Chinese Immersion School
Little Tiger Chinese Immersion School
Serves 85 students, PreK through Grade 5
Ms. Yuxia Liu and her Kindergarten classroom were featured in Austin PBS: Teaching Resilience.
Little Tiger 1st graders present their project, “No Waste Future.”
Little Tiger's new outdoor classroom, built during the pandemic, won a 2021 design award from the Austin chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Little Tiger Chinese Immersion School is a private elementary school in Austin, Texas. It was founded in 2015, as a companion to Chinese with Meggie, a session-based language school founded 10 years earlier by the Head of School. Little Tiger serves toddlers (PreK) through Grade 5 students and is the only full Chinese immersion school in the Austin area.
The Little Tiger community includes 17 teachers and staff and approximately 85 students. The school’s overall student/teacher ratio is 1:8. Roughly 80% of the teachers and administrators have at least a master’s degree earned in the United States, including two who have PhDs degrees. One of the strong features of our instructional approach is the use of team teaching and mentoring systems to ensure a consistently high level of quality in all classrooms. We employ a full immersion model, with 100% of instruction in Chinese in Toddler/PreK, 90% in Kindergarten, 75–80% in grades 1-3, 65% in grade 4, and 50% in grade 5. Dedicated English Language Arts staff provide focused lessons in English literacy.
Little Tiger is committed to providing students with a highly personalized “Whole Child” learning experience within a diverse, culturally rich community. Among the families involved with the school, more than 11 different languages are spoken at home. Our goal is to deliver a rigorous curriculum that inspires students' natural love of learning. We also strive to create an environment that fosters independence and collaboration, as well as creativity, empathy, and resilience. As a full Chinese immersion school, we also aim for our students to achieve very high levels of Chinese proficiency in all skills through learning and creative play. We expect students to become responsible citizens and leaders, capable of applying their academic and social skills to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Little Tiger employs a full immersion model, including Chinese instruction in special areas, such as music, art, and physical education throughout all grades. We also place significant emphasis on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) as one of the core curricular areas, starting in PreK.
We believe that early introduction of authentic literary materials will greatly enhance students’ ability to appreciate the target language and culture in a similar way to native speakers. Starting from PreK and Kindergarten, teachers read age-appropriate literary works to students. In elementary grades, our team adapts classical stories, rewriting them for students at different levels of complexity. By second grade, students usually do guided reading with the original work. Older students are able to read the original work on their own.
Classrooms have mixed-age students learning together, which provides significant social and academic benefits. With our very low student/teacher ratios, teachers are able to provide small-group and differentiated instruction, and students have many opportunities for personalized and self-paced learning. The school maintains a digital portfolio for each student that contains artifacts to track their academic, linguistic, and social development over time.
One unique feature of Little Tiger is our highly collaborative approach to curriculum development and classroom teaching. Each classroom is team-taught by a lead teacher, subject teachers, and a supporting teacher. The teaching team employs a mentoring system to ensure quality and consistency in all classrooms. New and less experienced teachers are mentored by a more experienced teacher for their first year at Little Tiger. All teachers are also observed and evaluated on a regular basis to improve their classroom management and teaching strategies. Teachers are also provided with professional development opportunities to grow their professional skills.
We are proud to have a very diverse community of families, and we work closely with community partners and develop a variety of outreach programs. Our curriculum is built with real-world problem solving, such as reuse/recycling of materials and a helping the homeless project. With the help of our parent community, we provide volunteer opportunities for students and families. In addition, we have developed many special programs, including a very unique elementary study abroad program in Beijing and an annual visiting teacher program that brings teachers from China to the United States for training, internships, and cultural exchanges. We are also currently developing a micro-study abroad program, in partnership with a school in Taiwan, as well as an internship program with a prominent teaching university in Taiwan. We are excited to rekindle these programs once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.
In-Person Learning During the Covid-19 Pandemic
When the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, Little Tiger administrators and teachers quickly responded to a stay-at-home order by developing a blended learning curriculum over Spring Break. Between Spring Break and the conclusion of the 2019-20 academic year, we provided synchronous and asynchronous instruction for all students.
At the same time, school administrators developed extensive Covid-19 risk reduction strategies in collaboration with medical advisors, in order to prepare for safe in-person learning in the Fall 2020 semester. Drawing on the expertise of our advisors and publications such as Harvard University’s “Schools for Health: Risk Reduction Strategies for Reopening Schools,” we developed a layered approach to managing risk. Our supportive and highly engaged parent community was also instrumental in the school’s quick implementation of these measures. In addition to the requirements from state guidelines, such as 100% masking, our safety measures also include low-risk community guidelines, improving classroom ventilation, CO2 monitoring of indoor air, onsite rapid testing, and building outdoor classrooms, one of which won a 2021 design award from the Austin chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Though nearly all of our students have been attending school in-person and full-time since September 2020, we are also equipped to offer hybrids of in-person and online learning. Each of our classroom spaces has a Live Classroom setup, which allows in-person and remote students to receive the same interactive lesson simultaneously, should a student need to stay home briefly or over a longer period of time. We don’t usually emphasize technology in young children’s classrooms, but in the current context, our Live Classroom setups are a very valuable tool for keeping students and staff connected any time a family needs to learn from home.
While we are grateful that such technological solutions have enabled us to provide our students with continuity, the pandemic has only reinforced our belief that there is no substitute for hands-on, in-person learning.
Ms. Jiao Li
Ms. Meggie Chou
Founder/Head of School
Dr. Rui Cao
Director of Admissions and Administration