SIG – K-5 Chinese Immersion (小学沉浸式教学)


Chinese immersion education aims to (1) develop additive bilingualism and biltiliteracy in Chinese and English, (2) ensure that learners achieve academically and (3) foster the development of intercultural understanding between Chinese and English. Research studies show the development of functional proficiency in immersion language at no expense to learners’ English, and academic achievement and majority language develop at the level that equal or surpass those of non-immersion students (Genesee, 2004). Because of these benefits, more and more U.S. families are enrolling their children in Chinese immersion programs. Program number estimates range between 82-127 programs (Center for Applied Linguistics, 2013; Mandarin Immersion Parents Council, 2013). Persistent challenges always follow the expansion of Chinese immersion programs, such as improving students’ productive skills in Chinese, building purposeful and meaningful professional development, meeting needs of of the increasing number of struggling learners enrolled in immersion.

However when we searching research studies, we find the vast majority of research studies from 90s focus on bilingual immersion programs where the two languages being developed use an alphabetic script such as French and English, or Spanish and English. We also find there are also a relatively number of studies discussing learning Chinese as foreign languages for students who are at secondary level and beyond. To date, there is limited research studies provide research on the language development and academic outcomes focused predominantly on K-5 Chinese immersion programs where children are developing proficiency in a language with a logographic script as well as an alphabetic language (Center for Applied Second Language Studies, 2011; Lindholm Leary, 2011).

Begging the questions: 1) how can we use the current research findings or suggestions involving immersion programs in which language is cognate to English and research findings or suggestions involving Chinese as foreign language teaching to Chinese immersion students who are in the elementary schools; 2) what insights can we get from studies in both research and practice field to conduct our own research studies in order to provide scientific evidence of the success of immersion programs and give reliable and valuable suggestions to practical field; and 4) the ways in which we can bridge the gap between research and practical field.


  • establish a network platform for K-5 Chinese immersion educators and Chinese language educators to collaborate and Q & A;
  • collect and share information and resources for stakeholders in K-5 Chinese immersion field;
  • discuss the research questions in the Chinese immersion field;
  • conduct research studies in Chinese immersion field; and
  • Identify and share best practices in Chinese early language and immersion education


Leader: Ping Peng (彭平), Ph. D. student at second Language Education, Minnetonka Public Schools
Co-Leader: Yongling Zhang-Gorke (张永龄), Ph.D., Confucius Institute, University of Minnesota