Parents Camp Overnight to Enroll Kids in Mandarin Kindergarten Classes

A Venice school’s popular free Mandarin language program has parents anxious for enrollment

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    Parents lined up as early as 1:30 a.m. Friday in hopes of their child being one of the 75 students to get into Broadway Elementary School's Mandarin-Chinese immersion program. At the school, students spend half their day learning and speaking in Mandarin. Tena Ezzeddine reports from Venice for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on March 1, 2013. (Published Friday, Mar 1, 2013)

    A Venice school’s Mandarin language immersion program brought out a slew of eager parents who set up camp at well before dawn Friday in hope of snagging one of 75 enrollment spots.

    The free Chinese program at Broadway Elementary School -- part of the Los Angeles Unified School District -- was launched in fall 2010 with full enrollment of two kindergarten classes. The initiative helped the school reach its target enrollment for the first time in many years.

    The program's popularity was evident Friday morning.

    "This is my child’s future," said Cindy Kendall, a parent at the school. "And one night of no sleep is definitely worth my child’s future."

    The program will fill three kindergarten classes with a maximum of 25 students in each.

    "I got in line at about 4:40 today," parent Nikao Yang said. "It was an incredible experience ... pitch black, and there was a ton of people here already."

    A parent said she expected fellow moms and dads to line up at about 5 a.m., but many came out as early as 1:30 a.m.

    Broadway Elementary’s immersion program is taught in half in English and half in Mandarin. The classrooms consist of students who are either fluent in Mandarin or English to help each other learn, according to the school’s website.

    LAUSD offers dozens of dual-language programs, but only three in Mandarin, including the one at Broadway Elementary. Most programs are in Spanish or Korean.

    Although the demand is strong, resources are limited as Mandarin instructors are a rarity, school Principal Susan Wong said.

    "There aren’t many Mandarin teachers ... with full credentials," Wong said.

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