High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

City's first dual language high school; safe school, and self-disciplined students.

The Downside

Students need more opportunities to interact with classmates who don't share a native language; space constraints in shared building

Our Review

The High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies opened in September 2003 with the idea that monolingual students who are taught in two languages in this case, English and Mandarin Chinese can become proficient in both. Students regard the school as small and safe, but also find it academically demanding, as they are expected to learn a second language within four years.

Building and location: Built in 1929, the large gray building once housed Seward Park High School, a now-closed neighborhood school that educated generations of Lower East Side residents. Remnants of a past era can be seen in the details of the wooden doors, some still bearing glass panes and the original stenciled words designating the purpose of the room.

The High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies moved into the building in 2004, and occupies the fifth floor, which is painted in energizing blocks of yellow and blue. Plenty of writing by students in both English and Chinese is displayed on walls. One bulletin board featured booklets decorated with illustrations featuring Chinese students' personal reflections. One girl wrote, in English, "My mom says my eyes are like stars in the sky. My eyes are my very helpful assistants, they help me to see the beautiful world. Everyone says my eyes are always looking around like the person who has lost one's way."

Because Dual Language shares the building with four other small high schools, storage space is limited, and boxes of materials spill out of the small main office and into hallways. There are no metal detectors guarding entrances, as is common in large city school buildings, and hallways on the fifth floor are often very quiet. Facilities, such as the cafeteria, swimming pool, and two gyms, are also used by New Design High School, Essex Street Academy, Lower Manhattan Arts Academy, and Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law. Students from all five schools can join PSAL sports teams.

School environment and culture: Students say Dual Language is a very safe school. We saw pockets of teens working quietly or hanging out in empty classrooms and the cafeteria during their free periods. These self-initiated, unsupervised "study groups" are a cultural product of China the birthplace of more than half the student body and a result of the faculty's attitude toward young people. "In starting a new school, you really have to trust the kids. With a small staff, we can't follow them everywhere. They have to learn to be responsible," said Principal Li Yan, a longtime educator of English language learners.

The school's small size also gives teachers the chance to communicate with each other about individual students; one teacher said he likes that he gets to know his students very well. We saw teachers, roughly half of whom speak fluent Mandarin, chatting with each other in the hallways during their free periods. The staff leads an "Explore NYC" program for new immigrants, and take students outside of school time to famous city sites, such as the Empire State building or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Every year, the school moves closer to reaching the ideal ratio of a 50/50 split between native English speakers and native Chinese speakers in its freshman class. In September 2009, Yan estimated that 45 percent of 9th-graders were native English speakers. But because of the academic programming, the two groups don't seem to mingle much until the 11th grade, when they begin to take classes together. During one lunch period, we noticed that most under-classmen tended to stay with their native language peers, and one 10th-grader said students need to make more of an effort to reach out to classmates who don't share the same first language.

The student body breaks down into three main groups: new immigrants from China, native English-speakers from non-Asian families, and English-speaking Asian-American students who are not literate in Chinese. In addition, the school increasingly attracts graduates of the Shuang Wen School, a challenging K-8 English-Chinese dual language school. Each group presents a different set of skills and challenges; Yan says he programs every student's course schedule himself, and that the curriculum continues to evolve to meet changing student needs.

Teaching and curriculum: The school day is long, with some students beginning their first class at 7:15 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. Ninth and 10th grades are what Yan calls "foundation years," designed to help students build proficiency in their second language to allow all students to take classes together in 11th and 12th grade. Native English-speakers take a double period of Chinese everyday, and all other subjects are taught in English. In their second year, they are able to write short, one-page compositions in Chinese.

Native Chinese-speakers may take up to three periods of English a day. For other subjects, the school follows a transitional bilingual model designed so that immigrant students can catch up quickly on English-language skills; teachers may communicate in Chinese initially, but gradually move to instruction entirely in English. They also take a Native Language Arts class, a Chinese class that is aligned to the native English or history program.

Most teachers tried to engage their students in discussions but not all were successful. Immigrant students seemed more comfortable with lecture-style instruction, and more reticent about volunteering their opinion in class. On the other hand, students in mixed upper-level classes were much more at ease, participating in discussions and working with one other. In an upper-level English class, students paired up to edit each other's college essays in the computer lab.

Partnerships and programs: NYU undergraduate students provide one-on-one tutoring, while doctoral students in education shadow kids with learning difficulties to develop an intervention plan to help these at-risk students. Some students take classes at NYU, Hunter College, and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. The Chinese American Planning Council (CPC) offers work opportunities and an after school program. CPC also recruits Stuyvesant High School students to volunteer as tutors for Dual Language students.

Family participation: ESL classes are offered to parents. According to Yan, parents are welcome to visit the school anytime they want.

After school: CPC offers a range of extracurricular activities, as well as a program for struggling 9th-graders. A daily program lasts until 6:30 p.m. every day.

Special education: Only SETSS services are offered.

English Language Learners: More than half the students officially qualify for services, and receive them in the form of self-contained ESL classes. More students still need extra language support after they test out of ELL status, according to Yan, who continues to offer those students ESL classes if they need it.

Admissions: Screened. Call the school for a tour.

After graduation: Top graduates have gone onto MIT, NYU, and won scholarships for Georgetown and Cornell Universities. Many go on to CUNY colleges. (Catherine Man, May 2009)

About the students

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school shares the Seward Park Educational Campus with four other schools
Metal detectors?
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


Average daily attendance
87% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
37% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
74% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 1 licensed art teacher in Dance (part-time), Music (part-time), Theater (part-time), Visual arts (part-time), and Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
13% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
36% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
37% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
60% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Chinese.
This school offers Dual Language classes in Chinese.
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
66% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies
Admissions Method: Screened: Language & Academics
Program Description


Language Courses


Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP English Language and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP Statistics, AP U.S. History, AP World History


Boys PSAL teams

Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Handball, Volleyball, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Softball, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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350 Grand Street
Manhattan NY 10002
Chinatown (District 2)
Trains: B, D to Grand St; F, J, M, Z to Delancey St-Essex St
Buses: B39, M103, M14A, M14D, M15, M15-SBS, M21, M22, M9


Li Yan
Parent Coordinator
Helen Cheng

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