For several hours each day, students at Waddell Language Academy speak and write only in Chinese.
Nearly all their subjects, including math and science, have been taught in Mandarin since they were in kindergarten. They'll likely graduate high school fluent without the slightest accent.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools began its Chinese immersion program in 2006 with just one kindergarten class of only 21 students. Now, there are nearly 250 students in grades kindergarten through sixth.
"We have an unfortunately long waiting list of students who will not have the opportunity to start this program in kindergarten, because demand exceeds our capacity," principal Ynez Olshausen said.
Fifth graders Amina Shafeek-Horton and Milan Carter said they enjoy learning Chinese and speak it to each other outside of school.
Waddell is the only school in CMS that offers the Chinese immersion program, which will continue to expand through grade 12 for the 2019 school year. Nearby districts are also looking at starting similar programs.