Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is prior knowledge of Spanish or Chinese required to enter the school?

No, most students at our school had no background in Spanish or Mandarin prior to enrolling. Your child will learn both foreign languages while attending the school.

2. I don't speak Spanish or Chinese, how will I help my child at home?

Our extended school day(8:00-4:00) allows for students to complete assignments and receive all the assistance they need in the languages during the school day. They have access to assistance from their teachers and plenty of support. We encourage parents to read to their children in English at home or as they get older have their children read to them in English each night. This is very important to promote literacy at home.

3. How will my child's English development be affected as a result of receiving limited English instruction each day?

Our curriculum focuses very strongly on literacy in all three languages. Our expectations are that our students should perform ABOVE grade level in English. As children get older they receive more and more English each day. The amount of time they spend in English at ATA is comparable to the amount of time a traditional school spends on English-Language-Arts instruction.

4. How long will it take for my child to become fluent in the immersion languages?

Every child is different but most for most children it will take  approximately 2 years to gain full oral fluency. Full literacy will typically take approximately 2-3 additional years. This of course varies with age.

5. Will language immersion students be able to attend traditional schools later?

Yes. If at some point you wanted your child to attend a traditional school in the future, they would be very well prepared to flourish in that environment. We teach all subjects so moving your child to a traditional school wouldn't be any different than changing schools normally is.

6. How do I apply for financial aid or scholarships?

Please email the school’s administration and request a scholarship application. The email is

7. What type of curriculum is used?

The school uses a methodology called direct instruction in all subject areas. Key features of DI are:

  • Highly engaging & interactive lessons (students participate on average 10 times each minute)

  • All concepts are taught to mastery. Students don’t move on to new material without having mastered underlying content.

  • Very efficient instructional model that allows teachers to teach more material in less time.

DI has been around 5 decades and there is more research available on this approach than any other teaching philosophy.

8. How is the food?

We serve breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack each day. Breakfast and the afternoon snack always consist of fresh fruit and a simple grain (Oatmeal, Cereal, crackers, etc.). Our lunch is always made from scratch (nothing processed) and each day contains:

  • A Salad

  • 2 Vegetables  (spinach, kale, brocoli, green beans, etc.)

  • 1 Protein Item (chicken, turkey, fish)

  • 1 Starch (rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.)

We try to incorporate ethnic cuisine as much as possible (Chinese, Latin American, etc.).

9. What are the qualifications of the teachers?

All language teachers are native speakers of either Chinese, Spanish or English. All of our Chinese teachers have Bachelors degrees from Chinese universities. Some of our Spanish teachers earned their degrees from foreign universities and others graduated from American schools.  All teachers have received specialized training in immersion teaching methods and the specialized curriculum used at ATA.

10. What are the ratios for class sizes?

We set ratios primarily based on the teacher’s ability to effectively teach. Some teachers can handle more students at one time than others. All of our classes are well below state maximum ratios.

Overall our max ratios are as follows:

1 year old - 5:1

2 year old - 8:1  (usually smaller)

3 year old - 10:1 (usually smaller)

4 year old -  12:1 (usually smaller)

5  and up 15:1 (usually smaller)

11. What type of standardized testing is used?

We use the following outside metrics to gauge student performance and progress:

  • Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)

  • Youth Chinese Test (YCT)

  • Early Language Learners Oral Proficiency Assessment (ELLOPA)

  • Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)

  • Indicadores Dinamicas Exita de la Lectura(IDEL)

Our students as a whole have performed very well on these measures.

12. How much homework is given?

ATA has an extended school day and we use the entire day for instruction. We pride ourselves on being efficient and work hard to maximize each minute of the school day. We also want our students to enjoy being children and not to be burdened with hours of additional work at the end of a long day. Our students are encouraged to read every night but usually are not given extra work to complete at home and return to school the following day. Homework may be given to students who need additional practice. However, if a student is consistently demonstrating mastery on assessments of their learning, they are not likely to receive homework in those subject areas.