Mandarin Chinese and demanding academics
Crowded building means some students take gym on Saturday
At the High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies, all students are expected to speak, read and write in English and Chinese by the time they graduate. It is an academically demanding school where teens are required to study Mandarin daily and take four years of math and science. Attendance is near perfect, as is the four-year graduation rate.
The school day is long, with some students beginning at 7:15 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. Ninth and 10th grades are “foundation years,” says longtime principal Li Yan. They are designed to help students build proficiency in their second language to allow everyone to take classes together in 11th and 12th grades.
Native English speakers take a double period of Chinese every day all four years, and all other subjects are taught in English, at first, until children are more familiar with the new language. The reverse is true for native Chinese speakers, who take double periods of English. In their second year, children should are able to write one-page compositions in the new language, said a school administrator.
Although most of the students are of Chinese heritage, African Americans, whites and Latinos make up about 15 percent of the enrollment.
Ideally, dual language classes are a 50/50 split of native Chinese and native English speakers, but native English speakers make up roughly two-thirds of the school population, Yan says. About one-third of the teachers are fluent in Mandarin.
The new Asian immigrant population at the school is declining, Yan says. As a result, teachers are changing how they deliver lessons, from the more lecture-based style used in China to the more discussion-based style students are used to from their middle schools in New York.
The shift has not been welcome by all teachers, and their discontent shows up on school surveys. “If you want to move a school and get better every year, you have to make changes,” Yan says. “Change is never easy.”
The school reached 100 percent on its four-year graduation rate for the first time in 2017. This is significant given its mostly low-income population. Almost all children are prepared for college-level work, as shown on tests developed by City University of New York.
One element of college readiness can be seen in the school culture outside the classroom. Students seek help from older students, who serve as peer mentors, and are encouraged to make appointments with teachers for tutoring. Yan says they also meet in student-led study groups during their free periods. Working in study groups and asking for help are skills that have been shown to be helpful in college, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal that cites several research studies.
While in high school, students may take college classes at New York University, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Baruch or Hunter. NYU undergraduates provide assistance with writing. The Chinese American Planning Council (CPC) offers work opportunities and an after-school program.
The school was founded in 2003 and moved into the old Seward Park High School building in 2004. It occupies the fifth floor and shares the building with four other schools: New Design High School, Essex Street Academy, Lower Manhattan Arts Academy and Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law.
HSDLAS uses one section of the cafeteria and the swimming pool. There are two gymnasiums, but some children must take gym on Saturday due to scheduling, according to an administrator. Students from all five schools may join PSAL sports teams.
Top graduates have gone on to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NYU, and have won scholarships for Georgetown and Cornell. Many go on to CUNY colleges.
ADMISSIONS: Screened for language and academics. The school seeks a mix of native English and native Chinese speaker. Students should have strong grades of between 80-100 in all subjects, and standardized test scores between Level 2-4. Also suggested are a writing sample, recommendations and copies of awards and/or achievements. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and interviews, March 2018)
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
Computer ScienceNot offered in 2019-20
Advanced Foreign Language
AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science
AP/IB Math or Science
MusicNot offered in 2019-20
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Statistics, AP Chinese Language and Culture, AP English Language and Composition, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Calculus AB, AP United States History, AP Environmental Science
Boys PSAL teams
Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Handball, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Contact & Location
350 Grand Street
Manhattan NY 10002
Trains: , to Grand St; , , , to Delancey St-Essex St
Buses: B39, M103, M14A, M14D, M15, M15-SBS, M21, M22, M9
This school shares the Seward Park Educational Campus with four other schools