Northwest Chinese Academy

Northwest Chinese Academy

Serves students in grades Pre-K–5, with a part-time middle school extension program

Program Description

The Northwest Chinese Academy (NWCA), in the Portland metropolitan area of Oregon, is proud to offer a 90/10 model of Mandarin language immersion education. Dr. Shuhan Wang, CELIN Project Director and President of ELE Consulting International, says that NWCA students “demonstrate high oral language and literacy skills in the Chinese language, one of the highest that I have observed among many Chinese immersion schools in the United States.”

Founded in July 2008, under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Binny Arcot, NWCA opened its doors in September, 2008, with 20 students and 6 teachers, and has stayed true to its small-school community roots ever since. The school mission is: “To set the standard of excellence in immersion education.”

NWCA’s Early Education Program has two classes for students in preschool (starting at age 3). Students are fully immersed in Chinese language and culture through music, art, games, songs, stories, and plays. Students participate in an English Language Arts Program tailored to their level then spend the remaining 90% of their day immersed in Mandarin. For the youngest learners, there is an emphasis on active, hands-on learning taught in a developmentally appropriate Chinese immersion setting.

NWCA’s Elementary School program encourages personal growth while also ensuring a high level of academic achievement and language fluency. Kindergarten through 5th grade students spend an average of 85% of their day listening to, reading, and speaking Mandarin Chinese. In addition, NWCA is the only local school that offers a daily Study Hall Hour, included in the tuition, where students without exposure to Mandarin at home can get an additional hour of support in Mandarin Chinese.

NWCA’s Middle School Extension Program offers middle school students an opportunity to continue their Mandarin language skills in Chinese Language Arts, Conversation, and Social Studies under the 90% immersion model. The school’s proficiency targets set a goal of fifth grade students reaching the ACTFL Intermediate mid to Intermediate high levels in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Mission and Goals

NCWA’s mission is to set the standard of excellence in immersion education and to foster the total development and highest potential of each individual child. Educators teach every subject—including art, music, and PE—in Mandarin. The only exception is English literacy. Every student is encouraged to interact in age-appropriate Mandarin Chinese at all times. Children are recognized as active learners and are engaged in their learning through curiosity about their global community.

NWCA’s Goals

  • Academic and Scholarly Excellence: All students are performing above grade level in various subject matters, engaged in their learning, and contributing positively to the community.
  • Full Mandarin Immersion: To get students to high levels of proficiency in listening, speaking, writing, and reading Mandarin in an environment in which Chinese language and culture are used and practiced.
  • Whole Child: Students are joyful, empowered, creative, critical thinkers and responsible, self-confident citizens.
  • Culture: Students are globally competent. The heart of culture is accessed through language acquisition.
  • Community: NWCA is a caring community of students, parents, teachers, and administrators working toward a common goal.


Academy students are well-known in Oregon for their contributions to the community through the sharing of Chinese language and culture. NWCA currently has partnerships with Portland-based Lan Su Chinese Gardens, where students perform Chinese songs and dance as well as participate in workshops about Chinese culture. A new partnership with Portland State University has allowed NWCA teachers to receive technology training.

Academy students have introduced preschoolers at the local libraries and preschools to beginning Chinese and have presented Chinese culture to the Beaverton, Portland, Salem, and surrounding communities through specially tailored performances. They have brought joy to community elders by sharing Chinese New Year festivities with them and have been honored with the opportunity to sing the Chinese National Anthem at the Chinese Garden during the New Year celebrations.

In 2015, NWCA students spent several days visiting Zhongguancun No.1 Primary School (中关村第一小学) in Beijing during the school’s bi-annual trip to China.

In its short history, Northwest Chinese Academy has established itself as a premier learning institution and is proud of its dedication to immersion education and academic excellence. The school looks forward to identifying new opportunities for young leaders to build a bridge between "the East and the West."

Program Highlights

  • 90/10 model of Mandarin immersion throughout preschool to Grade 5
  • Specialized learning materials from People's Education Press (人教版小学课本), a proven Beijing curriculum, which NWCA modified for U.S. students learning Mandarin
  • STAMP4se (Standards-Based Measurement of Proficiency) exam administered to 2nd–5th grade students
  • Technology-rich learning environment
  • Small class size (7:1 student-to-teacher ratio)
  • Advanced English literacy curriculum starting in pre-school
  • Language, education, and culture-focused bi-annual trips to China

Learn More about NWCA

NWCA's Story
Focus on Our Future
A Story about My School

Program Contact

Martha A. Ortiz, Head of School,

Other Featured Program Profiles

Located within the Verona Area School District, currently the only public Chinese Immersion Charter School within the state of Wisconsin. Founded in 2010 and serving students in Kindergarten through grade 5.
Virtual Virginia is a program of the Virginia Department of Education, which offers Advanced Placement (AP®), world language, core academic, and elective courses to students across the Commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S.
The Cupertino Language Immersion Program (CLIP) is a Grades K–8 program in the Cupertino Union School District of Santa Clara County, California, and provides two-way immersion education in English and Mandarin for nearly 600 students.
The International School of Denver is a private, multicultural, multilingual school, which serves 700 students from age 3 to grade 8 in an inclusive, globally minded community.
Denver Language School is the only K–8 public early total immersion charter school in Colorado that offers Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. The school opened in 2010 and has more than 830 students.
The Georgia Department of Education oversees more than 1.7 million students in 212 school districts. In the 2017–18 school year, 7,107 students from 57 districts were enrolled in Chinese language courses.

All Program Profiles

Profiles of specific early language and immersion programs.