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Bellevue to open new Mandarin Dual Language School

Mandarin School Principal Vivian Tam.  - COURTESY PHOTO, Bellevue School District
Mandarin School Principal Vivian Tam.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO, Bellevue School District

A new school will open in Bellevue this fall – in a familiar place. The Mandarin Dual Language School will open its doors at Bellewood. The program, formerly located at Ardmore Elementary, has been expanded to become an entire school, answering a demand by parents and students who want children to excel in academic learning in Mandarin Chinese and English, simultaneously.

Vivian Tam was recruited to Bellevue specifically for this reason. Relocating from Cambridge, Mass., Tam is the new principal at the Mandarin Dual Language School.

Mandarin Chinese is one of the fastest growing languages in the world.

“The Mandarin Dual Language School is a natural fit for Bellevue as it aligns with the growing Chinese population in the city,” Tam said. “Students and families could access excellent educational outcomes through real-life connections and through purposeful teaching and learning.”

The new school will be the only Mandarin Dual Language School in the state which follows a two-way model. Student enrollment in the classes is balanced between native language speakers (Chinese) as well as students who speak other languages such as English, Spanish, Hindu, etc. as a first language.

The school will be a dual language school, where English and Mandarin Chinese are used to teach the curriculum throughout the day. That’s different from a full immersion program such as Puesta Del Sol, where just Spanish is used to teach the curriculum for the majority of the school day.

Both approaches wrap students in a cultural and academic experience that accelerates the learning, but with different phased approaches, district officials said. More than 100 families in the 2013-2014 school year have registered their children for the new school in grades kindergarten through second grade.

Meanwhile, Tam is busy working with a district transition team to set up the new school to welcome students. Aside from the logistics of setting up a new school, Tam has been busy developing new relationships to ensure a strong connection to the community.Her days have been filled with setting up classrooms and school offices, meeting with district transition team members and staff, connecting with parents, meeting with Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee and other Chinese community leaders, to attending the Fu Dog dedication dinner.

“I am drawn to BSD’s and the city of Bellevue’s commitment in providing world class opportunities to prepare all students to succeed in career and in life,” Tam noted. “I am thrilled to be part of the leadership team in this global city to ensure delivery of academic excellence, multicultural and bi-literate competence, and 21st century skill sets to all students. “

Once the school year starts, the Bellevue School Board will hear options for a name for the new school. At the same time, the district will explore options for a permanent site as it explores options for a permanent location.

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