Frequently Asked Questions about Chinese School

What is a Chinese school?

Traditionally, Chinese schools have been community-based organizations started by Chinese immigrants. The purpose of these schools was to give their children, who were born and educated outside of China, formal lessons in Chinese language and culture. Because the families speak Chinese at home, the children typically have a good comprehension of spoken Chinese, but they need formal instruction to improve their oral language skills and literacy.

Chinese schools are a supplement to regular education. Students in Chinese school attend public and private schools for their formal education, and attend Chinese school on the weekend to focus on language skills.

There are Chinese schools all over the world, wherever you find a Chinese community, chances are you will find a Chinese school. Chinese schools are a linguistic and cultural resource for overseas Chinese, and resources for the local communities to learn more about Chinese language and culture.

Are you a real school?

Like other Chinese schools around the world, the Lansing Chinese School is not a "school" in the sense of public education or accredited schools. We are not an accredited school. We are a school in the sense that we have classes, students and teachers. But we are a more like a community organization than a school. Our school has a very narrow purpose: to teach Chinese language and culture.

Do I have to be Chinese to enroll in Chinese school?

Chinese school is NOT only for ethnic Chinese students! In fact, a large percentage of our students are not Chinese. We welcome everyone who has an interest in learning Chinese language and culture. Depending on your linguistic background, you would enroll in one of two different tracks: heritage or CSL.

What does CSL mean?

CSL stands for "Chinese as a Second Language." It's a tongue-in-cheek way to refer to language classes for students who do not come from Chinese-speaking home backgrounds.

What is the difference between heritage and CSL classes?

CSL classes are taught in Mandarin with English added as necessary to ensure students' understanding. The focus of CSL classes leans more toward speaking and listening rather than reading and writing. CSL classes teach the Pinyin romanization system and simplified Chinese characters.

Heritage classes, also called Traditional classes, are taught in Mandarin, and focus more on reading and writing skills. These classes teach traditional Chinese characters and the Zhuyin phonetic system.

Generally speaking, only students from a Taiwanese background enroll in Traditional classes.

Simplified? Traditional? What's the difference?

Although spoken Mandarin Chinese is largely the same in Taiwan and China, the writing system was changed in China to use simplified characters 簡體字/简体字. These characters are based on traditional characters, but have fewer strokes, and are easier to write. This change was made in China with the intention of improving the literacy rate of the Chinese population.

In Taiwan, simplified characters were not adopted. The characters used in Taiwan are called traditional characters: 繁體字 or 正體字. Traditional characters are more similar in form to those used in ancient texts.

What is culture class?

Every week, we offer two hours of language instruction classes, followed by an optional hour of culture class. Students elect to join the different culture class offerings. In the past, we have offered Tai Chi, calligraphy, abacus, dance, crafts and diabolo (Chinese yo-yo).

Culture class offerings depend on the resources available to the school at any given time. For the 2013-2014 school year, we will offer diabolo for the full year. In the Fall semester we will have a handicrafts class, and in the Spring we will offer a Chinese folk dance class.

We are new to Chinese school. How do we know what class to enroll in?

Although we have general age-based guidelines for placement, we know that students have different linguistic backgrounds, and so we help parents make a placement decision. We invite students and parents to sit in on different classes to get an understanding of the level and style of the classes. Then we can make a more informed placement decision.

Because we are a small school, we can be flexible with placements, and classes are small enough, and the teachers are experienced enough, to accommodate varying language levels within a class.

How much is tuition?

Tuition is set by the Board of Directors every year, and is determined based on the school's budget and projected enrollment. For this 2014-2015 school year, tuition is $185/student/semester.

How do I enroll?

Please send an email to and give us some information about the children that you wish to enroll. That will help us to hire teachers and form classes.

We have a standard enrollment form that we ask parents to fill out at the beginning of the semester.

Is there a parent classes? What's it like?

The parent class is more of an exploratory class. We understand that parents are interested in learning Chinese, but that they don't necessarily have time to commit to a large load of homework. Our adult teacher is trained to accommodate the special learning style of adult learners. We try to make the adult class meaningful and to customize it for the goals and needs of the students.

I have questions that aren't answered here. Who can I talk to?

Send an email to Someone from the school will contact you.

Copyright © Lansing Chinese School. All rights reserved.

聯絡我們 Contact Us:
Email:  |   |  Mail: P.O. Box 1014, Okemos, MI 48805-1014