HOUSTON HISD wants voters to approve a $1.9 billion bond issue to rebuild and renovate schools.  One of the schools that stands to benefit is an old campus in Bellaire that has a very new and foreign concept.

Children of all backgrounds are learning to speak Mandarin at HISD s first Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School.

It feels kind of weird because I just learned it and I ve been here for two months, said Sarah Salazar, second grade.

Yet seven-year-old Sarah understands everything her teacher says. Her teacher speaks only Mandarin to the students. The curriculum is the same as any other school and the children appear to catch on quickly.

The majority of them have no prior Mandarin experience and some have yet to even master the English language, while others are on their way to speaking a third.

So why Chinese?

A lot of people think 'Texas' and we should be doing Spanish and that s already being done, but Houston is such an international city that we need to turn our attention elsewhere and include other aspects of international relations, said Principal Bryan Bordelon.

Any Houston student can apply for the school, and because it s so new, there s no waiting list.

We re trying to be progressive and forward thinking. We thought it would be excellent for them as far as college, said parent Katherine Capdaville.

In addition to learning the new language, the kids pass it along to mom and dad.

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