Category Archives: Resources

Cultural exchange for elementary immersion students

Amanda Conklin, a parent at Wasatch Elementary is planning a trip for immersion students to Taiwan. Students can get penpals prior to going and they will be meeting at schools and doing other great activities. Please see the following for more details:

Dear Chinese Immersion Parents,

Su Ma Ma Chinese Club has initiated several large projects, with great success. Currently, one of these projects is the International Pen Pal Program. Students who participate in this program have fun sharing the culture with each other, not only by writing but also through themes that we talk about in class. Recently, one of our Taiwan Pen Pal Schools (Sagor School) visited Wasatch Elementary and Aspen Elementary. During this visit, the students from Taiwan participated in English classes and visited Chinese Immersion classes at the schools. Students from both countries enjoyed learning from each other. The teachers from Taiwan brought amazing lessons into the Chinese Immersion classes with storytelling and sciences. We are creating a similar experience for our students in Utah, and are planning a trip to Taiwan in June 2015. You can learn more about us by following us on Facebook at Su Ma Ma Chinese Club.

Benefits of this program trip to Taiwan:

  • We will visit most of our pen pal schools (Currently there are 8 Taiwanese schools participating).
  • Your children will be able to personally meet their pen pals.
  • Pen Pal Schools provide a safe learning environment and nice host families.
  • We will visit many beautiful national parks and cities.
  • We are providing a longer cultural experience with a very fair price.
  • Taiwan is a very safe and friendly country to visit. Taiwan has kept many Chinese traditions while adopting a westernized lifestyle.
  • Due to our Pen Pal School resources, we will be visiting Taiwan for 2015. In the future, we will provide similar program to China.

LEAF Cultural Exchange, LLC will help provide travel assistance by arranging airfare, transportation, food, host family, etc. The estimated cost of the trip will be approximately $2,850.00 to $3,400.00 for 4 weeks. A bigger group could help cut down the cost.

You are invited to attend a 90 minute informational meeting held at Provo School District Office PDC on Thursday, March 12th, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.

(280 West 940 North, Provo, Ut, 84604)

If you are interested in this incredible cultural opportunity, please contact us and plan to attend this meeting.

Amanda ConklinSu Ma Ma Chinese Club


Dorian ConklinLeaf Cultural Exchange


This trip is not a school district or state sponsored event.

Su Ma Ma Chinese Club, LEAF Cultural Exchange and Pen Pal Schools in Taiwan are organizing this trip.

Looking for Chinese summer camps in Utah County?  

Nathan Abbott (aka “Mr. Ou”), the fabulous first grade teacher at Cascade Elementary, will be sponsoring Chinese summer camps via his Lotus Academy and also adult learning opportunities. The website with more information is

Amanda Conklin (“Su Ma ma”) has been doing a really great book club for students at Wasatch Elementary. She will be doing summer day camps, story times and book clubs. For more information, email

A new startup company called Cube Incubators ( is sponsoring learning opportunities starting at the end of June. Their program welcomes your children to come to their learning center and connect with children in China via interactive online games.

The Confucius Institute is also going to sponsor a summer camp that (from what I hear) will be somewhat similar to StarTalk has been in the past. Includes language instruction and other activities. Registration for the UVU sessions has not opened yet, but you can see information here:

An organization called “Global Partners in Education” is bringing about 40 elementary school students from China to America during July 21-31. They will meet daily at Cascade Elementary and receive instruction (in English) on science and mathematics topics. The class will be open to all English-speaking students and there will be different sessions available (9-12 or 1-4, each costing $120). Mary Ann O’Brien at could answer registration questions.

If you hear of other organized summer camps, please let me know and I will post them on our website (


Utah blooming with Chinese summer camps

Alisa Wu, the musically-talented immersion teacher at Lone Peak Elementary in Draper, UT is starting a summer camp.

Loyal readers of this blog will recall our write-up about Wu’s use of music, movement, storytelling and games to teach difficult concepts, such as how to say the days of the week in Chinese.

She explains: Children get confused about how to say the days in Chinese. In English we only have today, tomorrow, yesterday. But in Chinese we have:
Jin tian—today
Ming tian —tomorrow
Hou tian— the after tomorrow
Da hou tian—two days after tomorrow
Zuo tian—yesterday
Qin tian-Two days ago
Da qin tian–Three days ago

Putting these words to song aids in memory, pitch and sound discrimination – and it “makes learning fun,” says Wu, who has built up quite a repertoire of songs pared to Utah’s immersion curriculum.

Of her motivation to start a summer camp, she says:

“It takes a tremendous amount of study and dedication to become fluent in a foreign language, especially Chinese, and I have been fortunate to teach some truly remarkable children during my career; however, as I discussed in the paragraphs above, with only a small population of fluent Chinese speakers, coupled with the fact that most of our parents are unfamiliar with the language, there are few opportunities for practice when not in the classroom.  As we welcome our students back into their immersion classrooms in the Fall, students may often struggle with words and phrases that seemed so easy a few months before.  …Therefore, I made the decision to take my passion for teaching, and develop a summer curriculum that would ensure practice over the break, but also a curriculum integrating music, crafts, games, and picture books to ensure the students enjoyed the experience.”

The week-long camps run half-day (morning or afternoon session) at Salt Lake Community College (9750 South 300 West, Sandy, UT). Registration is open to currently-enrolled Utah immersion students, grades 1 through 4, but limited to 20 children per class. The $160 fee covers all instruction and materials.

See flyer below for more information or visit:

wswl camp-2





A-list parents pay big $ to have kids learn Mandarin

Surprise! Demand for Mandarin language programs is growing, according to Reuters. Some parents don’t have access to public programs and are having to shell out thousands to send their kids to international schools and bilingual summer camps.

If you have deep pockets, you might be interested in the story, which lists some of the multiplying pay-to-play learning opportunities. An excerpt:

“(Reuters) – If famed investor Jim Rogers is known for one trait above all, it is for spotting themes early — and betting on them big. So when the co-founder of The Quantum Fund (with George Soros) and author of “Adventure Capitalist” became a father, he naturally thought of how best to give his daughters an advantage.

His answer: Have them learn Mandarin.

“I am spending a lot of time, money and energy to be sure my kids do it,” Rogers told Reuters.

Indeed. Instead of just hiring a Mandarin-speaking nanny or having his daughters take a language class or two per week, the Rogers family packed up their belongings and moved across the world to Singapore.”

Mandarin is “Chineseasy” Part II

Long-time followers of this website will remember ShaoLan Hsueh’s TED talk wherein she explains her pictographic system for remembering Chinese characters.

She was recently profiled by The Wall Street Journal. Here are a few excerpts:

“ShaoLan Hsueh thinks that English-speakers can start learning to read Chinese in less than 10 minutes. …Her book takes [Chinese] characters and overlays simple designs on top of them to help readers make the connections between the symbol and the word. …Some words build on one or more characters put together, so once you master a handful of basic building blocks, she says, learning new characters becomes much easier. Two woman characters together mean “argument,” and three in a row means “adultery.” “It shows gender inequality,” says Ms. Hsueh. Why do two women mean “argument?” In ancient China, “they had three or four generations all underneath the same roof, and the women, they argue,” she explains….

Ms. Hsueh’s book arrives as more U.S. students are learning Chinese. Nancy Rhodes of the Center for Applied Linguistics, a national language research and resource nonprofit, says that the percentage of secondary schools teaching Mandarin has increased from 1% in 1997 to 4% in 2008 (the most recent year available). Meanwhile, the percentage of schools teaching French dropped from 64% to 46% in the same period, especially as schools face budget cuts. The number of enrollments in college Chinese language classes was more than 60,000 in 2009, up from around 34,000 in 2002, according to the Modern Language Association.”

Sesame Street expands Chinese offerings

China’s major TV network CCTV is joining forces for the first time with Sesame Street’s Muppets who, according to the Mandarin Immersion Parent Council, have long produced Mandarin version of their shows, available on YouTube.

Following is more information on from Kids Screen:

“The one-hour special series, entitled Happy New Year, is airing every night this week with various themes designed to encourage kids to learn more about the Chinese Spring Festival. During the special, there is a segment called Chinese New Year, where Elmo, Cookie Monster and Lily chat with CCTV hosts about special traditions and customs. The Chinese New Year segments will be re-broadcast from January 31-February 6 on CCTV Children’s Channel.

The 10 segments feature CCTV children’s hosts Ju Ping, Dong Hao, Jin Guizi, Huang Wei, Xiao Lu, Red Apple and Green Bubble, Mr. Sesame, Sister Moon, Du Yue and Zhou Zhou. The themes include monster year, bid farewell to the old and usher in the new, dinner on the eve of New Year, the Year of the Horse, lion dance and Lantern Festival.”

Read more:

Portland opens Mandarin preschool for low-income kids

Confucius Institutes – we have one at the University of Utah – are great resources for immersion programs. They help build curriculum, sponsor cultural events and work with the Hanban, a division of the Ministry of Education in China, to furnish scores of immersion programs with veteran, native-speaking teachers.

Working with a Confucius Institute three Head Start chapters in Portland are now doing Mandarin immersion, according to the Oregonian. Head Start programs are government-subsidized preschools for low-income children.

An excerpt from the Oregonian article:
“These three Albina Head Start classes, at the McCormack/Matthews Center in North Portland, are the tiniest representations of the Confucius Institute, with teachers paid and sent over by the Chinese government to spread the study of the language. There are 400 Confucius classrooms around the country – more in Oregon than anyplace else – teaching Chinese in elementary and secondary schools.
And in one Head Start program.
‘China has a saying,’ says [one of the teachers] Jiang, ‘from three years old, you can see your future.'”

Utah schools rely on dozens of Hanban teachers. But there is no shortage of supply. Perhaps this is a good option for schools wishing to start immersion kindergarten programs.

Free November training for Utah Chinese teachers

Chinese Teachers and Administrators, 汉语教师和学区领导人,

The Confucius Institute will be holding another free teacher training.  The topic will be “Making Yourself Understood in the Target Language (Chinese).”  The training will be followed by FREE LUNCH from Sweet Ginger. 犹他大学孔子学院要再举办汉语教师的培训。培训的话题是:“如何让学生理解老师讲的目标语言(汉语)。” 培训完之后神厨有富会提供免费午饭。

YOU NEED TO RSVP IN ORDER TO ATTEND, please email:  and state your name and what school you teach at.
为了出席本培训请您回复 邮件里请包括姓名和学校。

Making Yourself Understood in the Target Language 如何让学生理解老师用的目标语言

When:  Saturday, November 2nd, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Where: 6952 Hightech Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84047
(Directly North of Sweet Ginger-神厨有富 Chinese Restaurant)
FREE LUNCH is provided from Sweet Ginger 神厨有富 at 12:00 PM

This training will primarily feature videos of experienced teachers in the classroom.  We will be discussing what these teachers do to make themselves understood while speaking 100% (or close to it) in Chinese –otherwise known as “Comprehensible Input”. In addition to videos, we will also discuss how to set up your classroom and procedures to make it possible for speaking all in Chinese.  If you currently do not believe it is possible to speak all in the target language while teaching, this workshop will help you see how it is possible.  Also, if you currently are around 50% to 60% speaking in the target language and want to learn how to increase closer to 90% or 100% this will be very beneficial for you.  本次培训将主要采用经验丰富的教师在课堂上的视频。我们将讨论这些老师做什么让学生可理解他们说的100%汉语(或接近)。这也称为“可理解输入”。除视频外,我们也将讨论如何设置你的课堂和流程使你能讲100%的汉语。如果你不相信上课时你能用100%的汉语,本次研讨会将帮你理解别的老师是怎么做到的。此外,如果你目前约50%至60%用汉语上课,要学习如何增加到90%或100%,培训该对你有利。

*This training will be mostly applicable to secondary teachers and new elementary Immersion teachers.  本次培训最适合中学(初中,高中)老师和新聘请的小学沉浸式老师。

About the Location (Important for Teachers who teach a long distance from Salt Lake City)

This location is not at the University of Utah. It is located on the road directly EAST of Sweet Ginger神厨有富 Chinese Restaurant (I know many Chinese teachers know where that is!)  It is in a business building with plenty of parking.
We are experimenting with holding our trainings in a film studio so we can film the trainings and provide access to teachers outside of the Wasatch Front (this means St. George teachers, Cache Valley teachers, Wasatch Academy, Possibly Nebo and Ogden teachers as well.)  For these teachers the training will be broadcast online and they can email in questions to be answered during the training.

You will also receive 6 relicensure points for attending.

Thank you, and feel free to email me with any questions.

Eric Chipman 麦旭丰
University of Utah Confucius Institute
Office Administrator & Chinese Immersion Teacher
Office: 801-585-0988
Cell: 801-879-1176

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Beyond Sesame Street and Dora: Chinese cartoons for older kids

Big Ear Tu Tu is a popular Chinese cartoon among kids approaching secondary school. You can find episodes on YouKu, China’s version of YouTube.

Or you can go to this “Chinese4kids” website, which has compiled several episodes along with links to Chinese readers, songs and fun cultural facts about China.

A Chinese classic for kids

One our Chinese moms found this YouTube link to TV series from the ’80s called, “Journey to the West.” It’s one of many modern adaptations of a “Chinese Classic,” she says.

The story has been remade into books, children’s plays and, most recently, into a big-budget theatrical version performed this summer to wide acclaim at the Lincoln Center in NY.

The YouTube series has poor resolution, but it’s fund to watch. Apparently a cartoon version also exists.

According to Wikipedia:
“Journey to the West is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. It was written in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty. Its authorship is attributed to Wu Cheng’en. In English-speaking countries, the work is widely known as Monkey, the title used for a popular and partial translation by Arthur Waley.

The novel is a fictionalized account of the legendary pilgrimage to India of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang, and loosely based its source from the historic text Great Tang Records on the Western Regions and traditional folk tales. The monk travelled to the “Western Regions” during the Tang Dynasty, to obtain sacred texts (sūtras). The bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin), on instruction from the Buddha, gives this task to the monk and his three protectors in the form of disciples — namely Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing — together with a dragon prince who acts as Xuanzang’s steed, a white horse. These four characters have agreed to help Xuanzang as an atonement for past sins.

Journey to the West has a strong background in Chinese folk religion, Chinese mythology and value systems; the pantheon of Taoist immortals and Buddhist bodhisattvas is still reflective of Chinese religious beliefs today. Enduringly popular, the tale is at once an adventure story, a spring of spiritual insight, and an extended allegory in which the group of pilgrims journeying toward India represents individuals journeying towards enlightenment.”