Integrating Chinese Media in Your Home

I was recently thinking about Elizabeth Weise’s book A Parent’s Guide to Mandarin Immersion. (I highly recommend this book by the way and it’s currently a bargain on Kindle at $2.99). One part of the book that has really stuck out to me is an analogy she uses about visiting a home and noticing that there are no books on the shelves. None. In fact, no books in the whole house. Would we be surprised if the child struggled a bit with reading? This scenario in fact describes (for most of us) our homes – in terms of Chinese books and media. So the question is, what will do as parents to provide opportunities for our children to learn Chinese?

The Chinese Breeze book series is a good choice for students (the easiest level can probably be read by 5th graders). The link only goes to four of the books, but there are more in the series. We’ve also written before (here and here) about resources for parents in terms of a variety of shows and activities that kids can participate in.

Recently my family has enjoyed watching the Chinese Drama series “A Love So Beautiful.” It’s a fun, squeaky clean show that follows the story of five high school students in China. English subtitles are available (and for most students will be necessary for full comprehension). But it’s a fun way to practice Chinese listening skills and some cultural insights will come as well. Consider having a Chinese movie night where you watch an episode or two together. Hopefully your children will like it enough to keep going!

Another great series is “Love 020.” This series is a little more intense than “A Love So Beautiful” as it takes place on a college campus and includes scenes that take place in a fantasy world, but it’s still very clean and my kids have loved it so far.

Searching YouTube, Amazon, and other venues will yield further movies and books that could entice your children to spend a little more time immersed in Chinese. We welcome any comments as to specific media you have used to help your children practice their Chinese in the home!

Earning Advanced Language College Credit in High School

In a previous post we outlined what happens to high school students who have successfully completed their grades 1-8 immersion experience. We also have highlighted how this has worked out for those taking Spanish Immersion (which is a couple of years ahead of Chinese Immersion) in its development.

In this post we want to give an update on what is called the “bridge program,” in which students who have passed the AP Language and Culture test with a score of 3 or higher can take college courses in 10-12 grade. “The Bridge Program is a partnership between high schools and all of Utah’s public institutions of higher education. Credit from Bridge Courses will be accepted by all universities towards a minor/ major in the language of study.” Discussion are also underway with Brigham Young University, the largest private institute of higher education in the state to accept these classes as well.

The “Bridge courses” are college level courses, with different courses being offered in 10th, 11th and 12th grades – helping students earn both high school and college credit. These are advanced 3000-level university courses. Typically, five such courses would be required to minor in a foreign language. This means that students can graduate from high school just two classes short of a minor in the foreign language. In some cases universities may offer majors as well or opportunities for students to dive deep into the major along with language (e.g., study abroad experiences or internships in China).

For updated information on which colleges in the state have Chinese majors and minors, please see the FAQ page for the Bridge Program.

Update** The below comes from Jill Landes-Lee Bridge Program, state director:

“If I’d like to offer some additional information on the credits after high school that would lead to a minor or major. In accordance with Senator Stephenson’s SB152, all public institutions in Utah shall accept the Bridge Course credit toward a minor/major pathway. However, each university has slightly unique requirements for a minor/major, so when students arrive on campus it’s predicted that departments will require 2 or 3 additional courses for the minor. We will continue to work with departments across the state to learn about and publish their minor/major pathways over the next few years, preparing for DLI/Bridge students to arrive on our campuses in 2022-23. Exciting times! Please continue to check our website for updates.

A note from Fremont, CA

We recently received an email from Donald Apy, a Chinese immersion parent in Fresno, CA. He shared some resources that students at his child’s school are using that you might find helpful. He writes:

For vocabulary, our children use Arch Chinese (emphasizes character writing) and Yellow Bridge (lookup using pinyin), and some have purchased the Wenlin software. Our parent group purchased iChinese Reader for our school this year. The teachers like the dashboard, and kids like earning points for games.

A little more unique, a parent recently alerted us to an offer from a new Amazon Prime Channel called Miao Mi. The creators are asking parents to evaluate the channel and provide feedback…and the offer is available to any parent who is interested in giving input to a new product. Below are the details. It is geared mostly toward parents with children ages 3-7 (pre-school to 1st grade).  Interested parents can go to http://www.miaomi-tv.com/ and click on the link to be directed to Amazon to sign up free for 7 days. There are 4 channels — the first 2 are in English and the second 2 are in Mandarin. Start with Miao Mi Classroom to learn a few words in Mandarin (instruction is in English), then select a show to view in Mandarin and then view its equivalent English version.  After you have reviewed the shows, you can provide feedback using the google form at Miao Mi Parent Feedback. You can also navigate to the channel on Amazon (requires signup for Amazon Prime): Amazon Videos –> Channels (See all channels) → Kids & Family –> Miao Mi.

It’s fun to see the great ideas percolating up!

 

New Research on Immersion Learning

Image result for American Educational Research Journal

A top-ranked education journal* in the US just published a study on the efficacy of immersion learning on student performance. The article is open-access and is available here.

Some key findings:

“We find that students randomly assigned to immersion outperform their peers on state accountability tests in reading by about seven months of learning in Grade 5 and nine months of learning in Grade 8. Examining mathematics and science scores, we find no statistically significant immersion benefit but also no detriment. This is important given that students receive 25% to 100% of their mathematics and science instruction in the partner language through Grade 5.”

WOW! By 8th grade DLI students are almost a full year ahead of their peers in their English reading. No detriment on math and science. Plus they are bilingual! This is a PHENOMENAL finding. Children can be bilingual without having any adverse impact on other aspects of their education.

More from the article: “What is clear is that among students randomly assigned to immersion, those whose native language matches the partner language show a 6 percentage point reduction in the probability of being classified as an English Learner as of about fifth grade and a 14 point reduction in sixth grade. This finding corroborates other research showing an immersion advantage in English Learner reclassification beyond the early grades.”

In other words, students who native language is not English also have  significant benefits from DLI VS non-native English speakers who are not in DLI.

This is cutting edge research that needs to be shared!

*The American Educational Research Journal is the flagship journal of the American Educational Research Association. This is one of the best education research journals in the world!

 

Immersion Students Starting College Courses

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These 10th graders are not college ready, they are already in college! They are all enrolled at the University of Utah in an upper division 3000 level Spanish course — they are part of a pioneer group of Spanish immersion students from Granite School District who passed the AP as 9th graders, and are now in their first year of the Bridge Program! This is coming to Chinese in the next two years! What is the Bridge Program? From this white paper:

“The Bridge Program is a unique partnership between all Utah state institutions of higher education and school districts with DLI programs. Each Bridge course is developed by a statewide team of university and high school instructors and delivered during a full academic year by a pair of instructors, one from the university hosting the course and one from the high school site working in a co-teaching model. Through challenging and sophisticated approaches to cultural content, Bridge courses focus on developing critical thinking skills and advancing students’ language proficiency towards state grade level targets. The courses further the state goal of graduating students from high school with language proficiency levels more typical of students completing a language major in college. Utah’s institutions of higher education are actively preparing for this influx of linguistically advanced students.

“The Bridge Program meets the need for a secondary pathway for DLI students, but its impact goes beyond this. Enrollment in Bridge courses is open to any student who passes the requisite AP Language and Culture exam, thus broadening its reach to heritage speakers and other students who pass the exam at any point prior to their final year of high school. The Bridge Program promotes equity and access to bilingual and bicultural citizenship in Utah by offering rigorous, upper division university language and culture courses to any qualified student in designated high schools as determined by each district.”

3000 level courses in 10th grade? Wow, that is incredible!