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Mandarin Immersion Pod coming to Hub City

"Mandarin is part of her languages too, it's her heritage."
Mandarin Immersion Program making a comeback
Posted at 10:50 AM, Jul 10, 2024

YOUNGSVILLE, La. — Earlier this year, cuts to the Lafayette Parish School Board’s Mandarin Chinese immersion programs left both parents and faculty in a state of uncertainty. However, there is still hope for the program’s future.

For the past 14 years, the Mandarin immersion program had been a staple at Cpl. Michael Middlebrook Elementary School. Despite its success, the Lafayette Parish School Board decided to shut it down, citing low enrollment rates.

To read our past coverage on the closures, click here and here.

The announcement of the closure disappointed many parents who had enrolled or planned to enroll their children in the program. Like Zi Liang's family who relocated from New Hampshire to Lafayette specifically for the program at Middlebrook, the news of the closure left them at a standstill.

"At that time, me and my husband felt so devastated and so confused and lost in the middle because being able to go to a Mandarin immersion program was one of our biggest reasons we moved to Lafayette when we were re-homing to Louisiana," says Liang.

Despite the setback, Charter Schools USA, is giving Liang hope about her daughter's future and success in the language.

"Mandarin is part of her languages too, it's her heritage. Unfortunately, she can't really speak Mandarin just yet, but that's also one of the reasons that gets her excited because she gets to learn a new language with every subject involved on a daily basis," she says.

KATC stopped by Charter Schools USA's home office located in Youngsville, who has decided to revive the program and make it their own.

Educators are excited to continue teaching Mandarin in the Hub City, already having students enrolled and two full-time Mandarin teachers on staff ready to start.

Tia LeBrun, the Site Leader at Charter Schools USA, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to bring the program back to the community.

"We have numerous Mandarin speakers in Lafayette Parish, this means the world. For the students, teachers, and the community, it means stronger connections," Lebrun tells KATC

Classes will be held at Progressive Baptist Church and Charter Schools USA is finalizing the details.

A community meeting will be held on July 16th at 5:30pm on 2001 Simcoe Street for anyone interested in learning more about the program.

The pod is expected to open in August, and applications are now open. If you are interested in enrolling your student in this program, click here.