Driscoll's Mandarin Program
Driscoll School is the only school in Brookline, and one of very few in the country, to offer a Mandarin Chinese program in kindergarten through 8th grade. The program started in 2000 under the auspices of the Freeman Foundation, which worked with us to develop the program and fully supported it for seven years. Since 2008, the program has been funded by the Brookline Schools as part of the World Languages Program. All children in grades K – 3 have two 30 minute Chinese classes per week and in grades 4 – 6 this increases to three 40 minute classes per week. In grades 7 and 8, students may elect Mandarin as their world language course and have daily Mandarin classes.
The Mandarin curriculum was developed by our Chinese teachers, working in close collaboration with the regular education faculty at each grade level. The overarching goal is to teach children that a phonetically based language such as English is only one of a universe of alternatives by which language is structured. Mandarin is a picture or symbol based language that is structured on over 4000 characters; it is the most widely used character based language in the world. Interestingly, many children who faced challenges learning to read in English thrive in Chinese!
The Mandarin curriculum is integrated with the regular curriculum, and as such the programs reinforce one another. When first graders are, for example, learning about butterflies, vocabulary about this topic is introduced in Chinese class. When the third graders learn about the city of Boston, they learn about our partner city Xi’an , China at the same time (Brookline High School students can participate in an exchange program with the Gao X’in School in Xi’an). When children research one of the 50 United States, part of their project includes writing a fold-out book about their state in Mandarin. When 5th graders develop their animal research projects, the fact sheet about each child’s animal is translated into Chinese. There are several dedicated curriculum units, such as a study of Ancient China in grade 6.
At all grade levels, in addition to speaking and writing, there are many hands on projects such as learning Chinese crafts, calligraphy, cooking, and Chinese martial arts. In addition, children learn about Chinese art history and music. Each year, we hold a glorious school wide festival at Chinese New Year, which serves as an exhibition of knowledge for all grade levels. Children perform songs, recite Mandarin poetry, and present dances. The older students present original plays in Mandarin, with English superscript projected for their parents!
Our 8th grade graduates generally enroll in Chinese ll Honors or Chinese lll at Brookline High School. Our graduates make up a third of the participants in the Gao X’in exchange and a high percentage of our students enrolling in Advanced Placement Chinese as juniors and seniors in high school.
You can Download and view the 2011 Curriculum Update Below.