Monthly Archives: July 2013

Utah 5th-grader publishes book in Chinese

When Annemarie Hilton was just 8 years old she wrote a book about “the life of a 2nd grader.” The book spans one year during which the protagonist “has lots of adventures like stopping a bully and almost cutting her finger off,” describes the author of her work.

One language, however, wouldn’t suffice as a means for this Utah county student to express herself. Annemarie, now 10 and entering the 5th grade is studying Mandarin through Utah’s Dual Language Immersion program. This summer, at the urging of her father –  John Hilton III, one of our parent council’s regional vice presidents – Annemarie translated her book in Chinese.

“She has worked really hard on it (60+ hours this summer) and finally finished the editing today. We uploaded it to Amazon and she is now a published author!” said her dad on Wednesday.

Annemarie said she knew some of the words, but had to look up others on Google Translate. “It’s not perfect, but I hope you will like it whether you read it in English or Chinese or both!” she writes in the book’s introduction.

Check it out with your kids. It sells for just $2.99 and Annemarie is donating some of the proceeds to buy Chinese books for her school library. Perhaps it will inspire more budding writers to put their Mandarin to practice.

What the country is saying about Utah’s language immersion program

First The New York Times, now Time Magazine. Utah’s language immersion program is growing and continuing to draw national attention.

I’m not sure I agree with Jeffrey Kluger, the author of this Time Magazine piece who says, “The idea behind [Utah’s] program has less to do with the usual talk about a globalizing world and America’s need to become a polyglot nation if it’s going to compete effectively with China and other rising economies–though that’s part of it–and more to do with the nimble minds of the boys and girls doing the learning.”

The neurological benefits of bilingualism are well researched and comprehensively described by Kruger. But my guess is that parents enrolling their children have myriad motivations: from preparing their children to succeed in a globalized economy to expanding their academic and cultural horizons.

Regardless, it’s about time America embraced multilingualism. As Utah language immersion specialist Gregg Roberts is quoted in the Time story as saying: “Monolingualism is the illiteracy of the 21st century.”

Time Magazine has a pay wall, but here’s a teaser to entice you to read more. It’s worth the money!

“All over Utah, elementary-school students are joking and studying and singing and reading and fluently speaking in languages not their own: French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and, soon, Portuguese. They are part of one of the most ambitious total- immersion language-education programs ever attempted in the U.S. It kicked off in the 2009 school year with 1,400 students in 25 schools and by this fall will include 20,000 kids in 100 schools–or 20% of all the elementary schools in the state, with nearly 95% of school districts participating up through grade 12. …..

The idea behind the program has less to do with the usual talk about a globalizing world and America’s need to become a polyglot nation if it’s going to compete effectively with China and other rising economies–though that’s part of it–and more to do with the nimble minds of the boys and girls doing the learning. Research is increasingly showing that the brains of people who know two or more languages are different from those who know just one–and those differences are all for the better. Multilingual people, studies show, are better at reasoning, at multitasking, at grasping and reconciling conflicting ideas. They work faster and expend less energy doing so, and as they age, they retain their cognitive faculties longer, delaying the onset of dementia and even full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.”

Your kids read books in English, why not Chinese?

A great post by our sister organization in San Francisco with recommendations for where to obtain grade-appropriate books in Mandarin.

Featured are grade-level readers produced by our own Brigham Young University and – the official bookseller of my kids’ school.

I would also direct you to the online STARTALK summer reading camp, which features video and audio “read along” versions of Mandarin books, organized by grade level. Also available is an English translation for parents and online and printable activities.

No English spoken here!

Only in New York would you be able to find a Mandarin immersion lego engineering program! Wish they had something like this here.

Use or it, or lose it. It’s not easy to force yourself to speak a language different from the “mother” tongue of those around you. Not even for an American English teacher living in Spain who had best intentions of raising a bilingual son.

A summer, university-based language academy for high school students! A resource to remember for when our kids reach high school age (maybe they’ll add Chinese):
“Shortly after the 165 high school students from around the state of Virginia arrived on Washington and Lee University’s campus last weekend, they made a promise, in writing: no cell phones, no iPods, no iPads, and no English for the next three weeks.
The students are participants in three Virginia Governor’s Language Academies in Spanish, French and German….
One wrinkle to the program is that the students will actually leave with three languages. Each academy is teaching its students an additional foreign language. For instance, students in the Spanish academy are learning Japanese, but they are being taught in Spanish. German students are learning Russian, and French students are learning Arabic.”