Cool School: Yu Ming Charter School, Oakland

OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Tucked away in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown, something very special is brewing. It’s the Yu Ming Charter School. It is now just two years old and already 150-plus students strong.

Children from all over Alameda County are learning Mandarin all day long like second grader Siena Wong-Chai who loves the school

“I have always wanted to visit China someday, and now Ill be able to talk to other kids,” said Wong-Chai.

Yu Ming translated means nurturing the future. It was the brainchild of nine parents that all wanted their kids to be bilingual. Their kids only speak English 10% of the day. The rest of their studies are all Chinese.

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Yu Ming co-founder Chrissy Schwinn still can’t believe how quickly it all came together. “It’s amazing when you see these kids have no Mandarin and in a matter of three months are already speaking Mandarin and reading some perhaps and even trying to write characters,” said Schwinn. “It’s really incredible!”

Yu Ming features K-2nd grade, but plans to expand from K-8th over the next 6 years. There is already a waiting list to get in, and since it’s a public school that will be settled with a spring lottery.

Some visiting parents were mighty impressed. “I think that it is great to know two languages,” said Rina Narcisse of Oakland. “I think we are at a disadvantage as Americans who primarily only speak one language. ”

“When they come many have no Mandarin background, but now they can make up a story in Mandarin,” said Wea Shen, one of Yu Ming’s seven teachers. “It’s amazing!”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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