When families begin learning about our Early Learning and Primary programs, they often ask us the same question: “Why do you teach Mandarin to all your students?"

Mandarin is a required part of our curriculum from Transitional Kindergarten to Grade 4 because Mandarin provides our early learners with the opportunity to engage both sides of their brains, provides students with visual and artistic stimulation, and promotes the development of interdisciplinary thought and analysis.


Mandarin is a tonal language. This means that the same word can have multiple different meanings depending on the tone. Students of the language must attend to both the basic sound as well as the tone in order to understand a word.

The difference in brain activity between Mandarin and English speakers is well documented in scientific research. Most recently, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America published a study that outlined the specific differences in brain activity between speakers of tonal and non-tonal languages.

The results demonstrated that while speech processing is largely carried out in the “common left hemisphere,” Mandarin speakers activate an additional sector of their brain called the “right anterior temporal cortex,” which is crucial in recognizing differences in tone. Learning to speak a tonal language means that one must exercise this connection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain in order to improve their tonal comprehension abilities.

Additionally, Mandarin’s use of written characters for each word rather than an alphabet provides students with visual and artistic stimulation. Introducing Mandarin at an early age promotes the development of interdisciplinary thought and analysis, enabling the students to draw connections between their lessons from different subjects. 













Mandarin instruction at BASIS Curriculum Schools employs a variety of teaching techniques for accessing different styles of learning. For example, because tone is so important when speaking Mandarin, students often use music and song to practice their speaking skills. Through a variety of teaching methods and instructional media, students rapidly improve their conversational Mandarin abilities.



Though Mandarin is the required World Language from TK - Grade 4, a student's exposure to another language doesn't end there. Beginning in Grade 5, students will study Latin as their World Language. Then, from Grade 7 and onwards, students will choose between French, Latin, Mandarin, or Spanish as their World Language.


If you have any questions, please reach out to the Admissions Team at (408) 291-0907 or email us at sv.admissions@basisindependent.com.

BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a TK - Grade 12 private school, providing students an internationally benchmarked liberal arts and sciences curriculum, with advanced STEM offerings. Considering joining the Bobcat communityJoin our interest list by clicking here to receive admissions updates for fall 2022 and more.