Chinese Immersion Experience

Singapore American School’s Chinese immersion program honors the mission and vision of the school by providing students with opportunities to become linguistically and culturally competent in Chinese and English.

The program’s vision and goals emphasize bilingualism, biliteracy, and sociocultural competence with a focus on high academic achievement in both languages. The 80/20 immersion to 50/50 bilingual program model helps students to build academic language in Chinese and English starting from our early learning center, where oral language development is the primary focus.
Reflecting cultural and language equity, the program is open to native speakers of Chinese as we believe it’s important that children receive instruction in their native language in order to develop academic language. Literacy in Chinese and English is developed from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Preschool through first grade—Chinese immersion program

According to research, children have an innate ability to acquire languages at a young age. Through an immersive model, children are able to learn language the same way they learn their first language and develop better metalinguistic awareness, leading to higher academic achievement. They have the advantage of developing the pronunciation, structure and intonation of Chinese and English easily and successfully.
Immersion in early years builds children’s oral Chinese language skills and ensures greater success in literacy skills. Research shows that people who are bilingual from a young age have greater densities of gray matter in areas of the brain associated with language processing.

Second through fifth grade—Two-way bilingual program

Immersion/bilingual programs lead to higher student outcomes when they are provided to the participating students for a period of at least six years to reach native-like proficiency and grade-level achievement. At this level, instruction in English and Chinese progresses to 50-50 in order to develop a high level of academic proficiency in both languages.



Students will go beyond simply learning the language. They will use the language for learning.

Click here to watch our Chinese Immersion Program Info Session  

Integration of Immersion Classes

The Chinese immersion program was launched with two immersion kindergarten classes in 2017–18. These classes will roll forward each academic year bringing the program across pre-kindergarten through fifth grade by 2022–23.

80/20 Immersion to 50/50 Bilingual Program

*For additional optional opportunities to study Chinese in middle school click here for our middle school program planning guide.

Exciting possibilities


Zara has been learning Chinese since she was two, but she's never been willing to speak. In her first week of immersion she just naturally blurted out several things in Chinese, so her confidence improved almost immediately.

Louise Donaghey, SAS PARENT

What Will Immersion Students Learn to Do?

Communicate directly with English and Mandarin speaking communities on a variety of levels.

Gain the cultural competency of one who knows what it is to have two inner worlds based in the roots of two different languages and values.

Practice critical thinking that will allow them to analyze conflicting messages or information between languages and come to reasonable conclusions.

Develop deep character, with the ability to understand two different value systems and ways of life.

Collaborate with Chinese and English speakers and create bridges between communities to the benefit of both.

Creatively bring together their two language worlds in new and exciting ways through a variety of media.

Through content knowledge the curriculum for the immersion program is fully aligned with the SAS elementary curriculum.

Immersion Beyond Elementary School

Middle School

  • Competency to thrive in core subjects taught in English
  • Higher level Chinese courses available including Near Native
  • Possible options may include choice of Chinese advisory and elective class in Chinese
  • Chinese language extracurricular activities

High School

  • Higher-level Chinese courses up to college course level, including Advanced Placement (AP) Chinese Language and Culture, Advanced courses, and Advanced Topic (AT) Chinese Language: History
  • Seal of Biliteracy for students who have attained required language proficiency in English and one more language by high school graduation
  • Chinese Honor Society
  • Multiple service clubs that focus on China with travel and language use possibilities that offer experiential learning opportunities and extend learning beyond classrooms

The Chinese Immersion Teachers

We know that student success is directly tied to quality teaching. In addition to being highly skilled, SAS teachers and instructional assistants are dedicated to connecting with students and engaging them at every point in their learning.

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Who should apply

Fluency in English is strongly recommended for incoming kindergarten immersion students. Prior exposure to Chinese language is not required.

Joining the immersion program at Singapore American School is a commitment. We ask that parents are willing to make a commitment to read English books with their children everyday at home.

We accept applications year round and enrollment is dependent upon meeting language requirements and space availability.

How to apply

For new SAS applicants, you will indicate your official interest in immersion in the admissions application process. Applications for new families will be considered based on priority lane, date of application, and completeness of application, and are subject to thorough review for general admission to SAS.

For more information, contact

Frequently Asked Questions