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San Francisco Schools Connect to China and its Chinese Community

The Alice Fong Yu Alternative School

The Alice Fong Yu Alternative School, one San Francisco School, is the first Chinese immersion school in the United States. The school is designed as a two-way Chinese/English instructional environment. The school provides an outstanding educational experience for children of all backgrounds. All students at Alice Fong Yu develop competency in the Cantonese and English languages and use the two languages actively in the content curriculum. The school aims to have all students to be able to converse in and become literate in both English and Cantonese by 5th grade. The Mandarin language is added after the fifth grade. The Mandarin/English program is similar in scope and function to the Cantonese/English program. The program is intended to vigorously include the staff, parents, and students in cultural and language education. The Alice Fong Yu school uses parents and volunteers in a variety of enrichment programs such as, Performing Arts Workshop, Poets in the Schools, and science and library consultants.

The Alice Fong Yu Alternative School’s Chinese Exchange Program

Created in 2000, the exchange program sends the eighth grade class to Beijing to meet their Chinese pen pals. The program gives students the opportunity to use their knowledge of the Chinese language and culture in a real life experience. The students travel to Beijing and Hong Kong where they meet Chinese students their own age. This experience allows students to experience the culture first-hand and put their language skills to the ultimate test.

In January of 2005, the program came closer to being a true exchange program. San Francisco Schools through the Alice Fong Yu School hosted students and teachers from The Experimental High School Attached to Beijing Normal University. The selected students and two teachers from China stayed with host families and participated in classes and school functions including English, art and modern dance classes. The Chinese students were able to tour City College, the Chinese Consulate and many interesting tourist destinations in the San Francisco area. Both the local and Chinese students spent their time practicing English and Mandarin.

Dance and Art Students from San Francisco Schools Travel to China

Other programs in San Francisco Schools have allowed students to travel to China to participate in international exchanges and competitions. This summer five students from the San Francisco School of Arts will travel to ShenZhen, China as representatives of the United States at the ShenZhen International Culture and Arts Festival. As part of an Educational Exchange program facilitated by Dr. Marie Lee, Director of East/West Child Research and Development Center and former school administrator of the San Francisco Schools, all student expenses in China will be provided in full by the ShenZhen Nanshan Government. The five selected students will perform two dances, Chant of the Sirens and Basin Street Blues. The School of the Arts students were the only students from the United States invited to the Festival in 2006. The three hundred students at the Festival represented countries from around the world including: Australia/ New Zealand, Russia, Germany, Bulgaria, Canada, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and others. Along with performing at the Festival students will visit schools, attend art exhibitions, eat new foods, visit tourist locations, and learn about Chinese culture and language while staying with Chinese families and students.


About the Author: Stacy Andell is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Stacy has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more on San Francisco schools visit http://www.schoolsk-12.com/California/San-Francisco/index.html




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