Upstate charter school offers unique experience

Upstate charter school offers unique experience
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 7:25 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Is your child interested in learning a second language? A Greenville charter school is offering something that’s rare in South Carolina and enrollment is open for next year.

Speaking a second language is second nature for students at East Link Academy, a Chinese-immersion public charter school for elementary and middle school students.

“I feel like if my son learns a language like Mandarin, which is really hard and difficult to learn, he can learn any language after that,” parent Jeanne Boughner said.

Students in K-4 through 8th grade learn Mandarin through body language, visuals, and facial expressions.

“Our students learn Chinese by immersion. They’re in a classroom for half the day where the teacher only speaks to them in Chinese. She teaches math, science and Mandarin,” Head of School, Dana Hutto said, “The other half of the day they’re in an English speaking classroom.”

“Starting at a young age, it gives the child the opportunity because their minds are sponges. It allows them to learn quickly,” parent Keonte Davis said.

The program also exposes children to another culture.

“He loves the Mandarin part. He loves learning about the Chinese culture and just being immersed in that. He comes home and tells me facts and things that he’s learning and the festivities that they have,” Boughner said.

Learning another language also improves critical thinking and problem solving skills. East Link received the highest test scores out of all elementary schools in the state last year.

“One of the things about learning a different language is, it works a completely different side of the brain. By the teacher speaking to them in Mandarin, they’re having to problem solve and figure out what she’s saying so that works on their problem solving, which then rolls into their math and their science,” Hutto said.

East Link Academy is hosting a dumplings, tea, and tour event this Friday at noon.

The school is now in open enrollment and taking applications for next year.