Queens High School for Language Studies
Flushing NY 11354
Student work toward fluency in Mandarin and English, friendly and supportive environment
Too soon to tell
Opened in 2013, Queens High School for Language Studies (QHSLS) is a promising new school modeled after the successful High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies in Manhattan. Half of its incoming 9th-graders are fluent in English and learn Mandarin as a foreign language. The rest are native Mandarin Chinese speakers still learning English. The goal is for the blended population of English and Mandarin learners to support each other while all work towards fluency in their new languageon top of taking a full load of academic classes.
Chinese is reinforced throughout the school day, said founding principal Melanie Lee, who taught history and English as a second language at Asian Studies in Manhattan. You hear it in the hallways and at lunch time.
Housed in the Flushing High School building, QHSLS has a calm and friendly vibe. In classes we visited, teachers were enthusiastic; students seemed engaged. Students we met said they like the schools close-knit environment where all their teachers know them well. All said they feel safe in the school and throughout the building. Flushing High School students are very nice too, one student offered.
QHSLS follows a bilingual rather than dual language format, meaning that fluent English speakers take a daily Mandarin class for all four years, but all their other classes are taught in English. The English language learners (ELL) take Mandarin classes geared for their advanced level as well as English and some history classes targeted for non-fluent speakers. In 9th and 10th grade they may also take math and science classes taught in Mandarin to ensure they do not fall behind in those subjects while working to improve their English skills.
The school serves students at all academic levels and does a good job of giving all the opportunity to work at their own pace and skill level. For instance, algebra and geometry are taught in extended periods to ensure students get extra time to digest the lessons, which helps them perform better. In English-only classes, teachers give instructions in Mandarin to to make sure all students understand the assignments. Conversely, in Mandarin for beginning learners, the teacher may explain a task in English before switching to Chinese for the remainder of the class.
Classes have a traditional feel, with students sitting in rows facing the front, though we observed teachers making time for class discussions and small group work. Its essential that students work in groups to help them process their lessons in their native language and their new one, said Lee.
High-achieving students may take Advanced Placement (AP) courses starting in junior year. During our visit we met an ambitious 11th-grader and former ELL, who was taking AP courses in Mandarin, United States history and calculusthe latter two taught in English.
In addition to core subjects, students take classes in mock trial, theater, computer applications and vocal music.
A local cultural and social welfare organization, AAFE (Asian Americans for Equity), helps with student support and family outreach. AAFE funds college tours for students and their parents and connects families with needed services such as counseling, immigration and healthcare.
QHSLS provides parents with access to Rosetta Stone language software to help them learn English or Mandarin too. Lee also invites parents to tour the school several times each year so they may see the school in action and offer the administration feedback.
QHSLS shares the facilities with Flushing High School and Veritas Academy. Students at all three schools may participate in campus-wide sports teams and other extracurricular activities. There are some school-run activities such as engineering, photography and an improvisation club where students get to perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.
The Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc. also provides after-school activities for QHSLS students including physical fitness classes and academic help, such as SAT preparation and tutoring.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers ICT and SETSS and has two special education teachers who work with students in the classrooms and on an individual basis.
ADMISSIONS: Screened for language skills only. Queens residents have priority. (Laura Zingmond, November 2015)
About the students
About the school
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About the leadership
About the teachers
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Are students prepared for college?
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Programs and Admissions
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Chinese, AP Statistics, AP US History
Boys PSAL teams
Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Football, Handball, Soccer, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Handball, Indoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling