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!
Krissy Shull from Alpine had a great idea to organize mini, “Mandarin-only” field trips to some of our local parks, museums and other attractions. This is a great opportunity to give students a chance to practice their Chinese in a relaxed atmosphere with other students from across the state. And through recognition that other kids are learning Mandarin, too, it could serve to reinforce the fun and importance of being bilingual. Shull says her tour group is open to anyone wanting to participate. Or parents can start their own tour groups.
She’ll post dates and times on this Facebook page. Here are some details on the first outing:
When: Tuesday August 4, 2015 @ 1:30pm
Where: Thanksgiving Point Museum of Natural Curiosity
3605 Garden Dr, Lehi, UT 84043
Cost: $2/person ($2 Tuesday price for the month of August)
Plan to get in line around 1:30 p.m. Each family will go through the museum independently or can group together. To encourage the children to interact with other Mandarin speakers you may want to have them bring 10 pieces of colored paper with their Chinese name written on them (2″ X 2″ may work well) to exchange with other Mandarin speakers. Your family may want to wear something with Chinese writing, etc, to help identify yourselves as a part of the Mandarin speaking group.
About the Museum:
The Museum of Natural Curiosity is a large glass-walled building housing more than 400 science- & nature-themed interactive exhibits.
Apologies for this late post — I thought it had already published.
But it may not be too late to sign up for the Confucius Institute’s annual summer camp (for grades 2-6), running from July 27-31. There are several locations this year, including the University of Utah’s Salt Lake City and Bountiful campuses, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah Valley University in Orem, and Dixie State University in St. George. You can enroll online at: www.youth.utah.edu.
See the attached for more information:
Chinese Immsion Campus Flyer (Wasatch Front)
Chinese Immsion Campus Flyer (St George)
(Photo courtesy of the Provo Herald, which featured Su Mama’s storytelling club and camp).
Utahns are entrepreneurial, so it makes sense that so many summer camps have popped up since the launch of the state’s Mandarin Immersion program seven years ago. It’s nice to see so many summertime learning opportunities for our kids! Here are three more to add to the growing list:
In a world of rapid change, the future will be shaped by those who are prepared to interact in a global society. The ability to speak another language, especially Chinese, will be a great asset to your child. Provo, UT-based YanYan believes that your student’s Chinese immersion experience will foster the drive, perspective, and proficiency to make a positive impact in all they do. At YanYan, we are passionate about enabling you and your student with the learning tools to succeed, not only in mastering the language, but in preparing for their future as lifelong learners. Visit our website at yanyanlanguage.com
- Su Mama Chinese Immersion Summer Camp is pleased to announced that our guest storyteller, Chen Ma Ma, will serve for our Chinese Immersion Summer Camp 2015. Amanda Conklin (Su Ma Ma) and Chen Mama will provide a summer camp for students at Wasatch Elementary. They are both native Mandarin Chinese speakers and skilled storytellers (Chen Ma Ma is an award winning storyteller). They will teach groups according to language proficiency. Language events will be based around lots of Chinese story books. Students will be able to learn the skills to ask, ponder, discuss, organize information, and recreate new stories. Thursdays are special event days where we will be doing such things as doing science experiments, using music to learn Chinese, playing Chinese Games and other activities. During summer camp participation children will also be able to learn a play and participate a play with Pen Pal school visitors from Taiwan-JhuCiao Elementary in August.Groups will be taught by 2 teachers and a guest volunteer. Children will be grouped by ability. To register: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ReYUXH6q4Kd8CpNWZuQ71qNQM-_pcIrinP0NBMSod-w/viewform?c=0&w=1
John Hilton, one UMIPC’s parent leaders, compiled this newsletter with valuable tips for constructive ways to spend the dog days of summer.
We’ve shared information about various summer camps on this blog. Here are more options, courtesy of Hilton, for families in Utah County: Check out learning opportunities from Nathan Abbott (http://mylotusacademy.com), Brittney Phelps (www.summerimmersion.com) and Amanda Conklin (https://www.facebook.com/SuMaMaChineseClub).
I’m posting the rest of his newsletter below. You can sign up to receive copies of our newsletter here.
Aside from summer camps, there are many resources you can use in the summer time to keep your child’s skills fresh. You could have your child practice on Quizlet sites his/her teacher has sent home throughout the year (or they could try these HSK Quizlets).
There are some great books available on Amazon that would work for children who have completed third grade – like the story about two children who seek a bridge to another world. Some of the books in the series are available inexpensively on Ebay (or used on Amazon). You might also consider hiring older immersion students (4-6 graders) to come read to younger readers or do Chinese games with them. It is possible that for a very low cost you could stimulate some good Chinese activity.
Last summer parents at one school hosted a weekly Chinese movie activity in which children could come to the school and watch a feature film in Chinese (many of the Chinese teachers will have access to these types of films). Something like that could be a great benefit to many.
Good luck this summer! We know the teachers will be working hard to prepare for the fall. Also, if you missed it previously, here is the latest information regarding Utah State’s secondary immersion plans. Parents of 5th and 6th graders may want to be in touch with their respective districts to learn more about the secondary plans in their area. We are very lucky to have such a great immersion program in Utah!
Stumbled across this blog post by an adult Chinese learner, who, instead of heading off to Chinese summer camp, decided to hire a tutor to work with him and his family for a week.
An excerpt: “We really loved it because it was completely personalized. Our teacher was able to support us exactly where we needed to be without worrying about other students or families. We were able to tailor the days to our needs. Whether it was cooking food, going to the park, or playing a game at home, we could easily focus on and practice language related to the everyday activities we needed to talk about. This was a huge help for us and much better than having the teacher create a lesson plan from some boring book or irrelevant text. …This not only greatly helps memory retention, but keeps things interesting.”
A growing body of evidence points to the importance of “authentic language learning,” or giving students real-life, developmentally appropriate opportunities to express themselves in their second language. For instance, a lesson on cooking steamed buns exposes them to everyday words, such as “measuring cup, flour, water, mix and temperature.” It gives them a chance to put their Mandarin to practical use. And learning about Chinese culture enriches their language instruction by exposing them to: regional and class-based accents; new vocabulary; conventions of different literary forms, such as rap and poetry; appropriateness of expression in different contexts (conventions of politeness, street language versus school language).
A lot of the research on the importance of “authentic language learning,” is out of Canada, the birthplace of modern language immersion. Here are excerpts from one of the most commonly cited papers, “Immersion Education for the Millennium: What We Have Learned from 30 Years of Research on Second Language Instruction,” by Jim Cummins at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto:
“For immersion education to attain its maximum potential it must be integrated into an educational philosophy that goes beyond just the discipline of Applied Linguistics. Students must have opportunities to communicate powerfully in the target language if they are going to integrate their language and cognitive development with their growing personal identities.”