May 2, 2023
Researchers from the University of Washington just published a study based on Yu Ming data which finds that Mandarin immersion can be a powerful tool for advancing educational equity, showing academic growth for all students, regardless of home language and race.
Through the analysis of Yu Ming Charter School’s academic data, the publication highlights that all students made significant progress in their Mathematics and English Language Arts scores regardless of their home language or race. This finding confirms that a Mandarin immersion program generally, and Yu Ming’s program specifically, can not only contribute to children’s bilingual and biliteracy development, but more importantly, promote social justice and educational equity.
Published in the book Crossing Boundaries in Researching, Understanding, and Improving Language Education, the study draws on three consecutive years of student achievement data for 200 students from Yu Ming Charter School. The book is dedicated to Dr. G. Richard Tucker, one of the earlier pioneers of immersion education.
Yu Ming Charter School was selected because it was one of the rare Mandarin immersion public schools actively teaching during the pandemic using a 90% Mandarin immersion model, and serving a diverse student body. “A diverse population was critical to the study because Mandarin Immersion has the reputation of catering to wealthy families, and to only be accessible to children who speak the language at home. We wanted to show that this is not the case,” said co-author Dr. Chan Lü, Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at UW-Seattle.
From her first meeting with Chan Lü, Yu Ming’s CEO Sue Park has been enthusiastic about the collaboration: “we are honored to be a part of pioneering research that highlights the transformative power of dual language immersion and how Mandarin Immersion programs provide a powerful tool for leveling the playing field for underserved students. That is a key part of our vision at Yu Ming, where we seek to create a more just and equitable future through education.”
The study is the second in a series of four studies on Mandarin immersion conducted using Yu Ming Charter School data. The first study “Bidirectional transfer of definition skills and expressive vocabulary knowledge in Chinese-English dual language learners” was published in the Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism in August 2022.
Dr. Chan Lü and Dr. Amy Pace from the University of Washington, have been leading this multi-pronged research project with the goal to add Mandarin Immersion data to the body of research on immersion programs, most of which involve linguistically-similar languages such as English and Spanish. Dr. Lü currently serves on Yu Ming’s Board of Directors Education Committee.
- Chan Lü, Amy E. Pace & Sihui Ke (2022): Bidirectional transfer of definition skills and expressive vocabulary knowledge in Chinese-English dual language learners, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2022.2108308
- Chan Lü, Amy E. Pace & Liu Liu (2023): Student-Level Variables and Academic Achievement in a Mandarin Dual Language Immersion Program, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-24078-2_10
About Yu Ming
Yu Ming Charter School is a non-profit, tuition-free network of K-8 public schools located in Oakland and San Leandro and open to all residents of California. As a leader in Mandarin Immersion education, our mission is to nurture our inclusive and diverse community to become empowered, engaged and outstanding global citizens. Our intentionally diverse student body includes many racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and represents 28 home languages. Yu Ming is one of the highest-performing schools overall in the county and state and for every significant student population regardless of socioeconomic background, race and learning difference. Ranked the #7 Elementary School and the #2 Elementary Charter School in California by U.S. News, Yu Ming is a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and a 2020 and 2023 California Distinguished School. Founded in 2011, Yu Ming is the first Mandarin immersion public charter school in the state. To learn more, read about us in The New Yorker or visit www.yumingschool.org.