Tag Archives: Chinese immersion

Keep those Mandarin skills fresh at summer camp


Two Mandarin teachers from Jordan School District are hosting a summer camp starting in June at a karate studio in Herriman, UT.

The half-day, week-long camps run Monday through Thursday in split sessions (morning and afternoon). By the looks of their website, they’re fun and affordable; $85 per week if you register by May 30.

Enrollment is now open. For more information see the following brochure, or email Glenn Lim-Anderson or Lay Kou at:  info@mandarinchineseacademy.com Chinese Summer Program-2  

Sunny Southern Utah welcome for Chinese guest teachers


If Utah leads the nation in Chinese language education with more public immersion programs than any other state, Washington County is the apotheosis.

Washington County School District – situated hundreds of miles south of the state’s bustling population center of Salt Lake – has five Chinese immersion programs, more than any other district.

It’s a feat that the district has managed, despite its relative isolation. There isn’t a ready pool of Chinese immigrants or university-trained Mandarin speakers from which to draw upon to staff the program. Instead, the district relies on guest teachers furnished through the Hanban, a division of the Ministry of Education in China. That, and good-old-fashioned hospitality.

To welcome the teachers, and help them settle into their new surroundings, Marybeth Fuller, the district’s dual immersion coordinator created a guidebook.

More than a mere pamphlet or list of helpful hints, the book contains a brief historical sketch describing how “Dixie” got its name, the area’s ancient Indian roots and influence of early pioneers. It touches on Utah’s economy and culture and spotlights popular destinations: natural wonders in National Parks, Mormon temples, and the shuttle bus to Las Vegas.

It also contains practical living tips, such as directions to area hospitals and how-to’s for obtaining a driver’s license, auto insurance and for buying or leasing a car.

“We don’t really have a transit system down here. You really are going to need a car,” said Fuller. “If I were in their shoes that’s what I would I want to know.”

Visitors to Utah this time of year probably think of snow-capped mountains, said Fuller. Nearly 80 percent of the state’s population lives in the mountainous northern part of the state known as the Wasatch Front.

“You’re going to pack differently and bring different stuff if you’re coming to southern Utah,” she said.

Fuller makes the guide available to guest teachers free of charge, but published it on Amazon.com for ease of access. It’s formatted for downloading on a smart phone or tablet, such as the iPad. Hard copies can be purchased for $2.71.

Meet the Wyoming, Austrlian children fluent in Chinese

Chinese immersion programs are popping up all over the United States, and are now making an appearance in Australia where the government has set a goal of having 40 percent of its high school students studying a foreign language, reports the BBC.

The article quotes a world languages expert who estimates there are fewer than 10 elementary immersion programs in Australia, despite evidence that the model is the best way to reach the country’s educational goals.

“The former Labor government proposed that every Australian high school child should be given the opportunity to learn an Asian language by 2025,” says the BBC. “The current government says 40% of high school children should be learning a foreign language in 10 years’ time. The figure is currently only around 12% in the final year of high school.”

That’s because the dropout rate at high school for Chinese is around 95 percent, the BBC says, noting immersion graduates enter high school better prepared and engaged – more willing to stick it out.


In other news (with a nod to Utah’s immersion program):

“A Chinese dual-language immersion program in Casper is the first of its kind in Wyoming, but the movement is gaining traction in other areas of the state,” reports the Casper Star-Tribune.

Parents and teachers in Gillette, Cody, Evanston, Sheridan and Cheyenne are exploring adopting programs, the newspaper says:

“Brandee Mau, foreign language curriculum facilitator for Campbell County School District 1 and a German teacher at Campbell County High School in Gillette, said her school district will send a team of school officials and community members to observe the dual-language immersion programs in Utah in the coming months….. Research from immersion programs in Utah, where some 20,000 students statewide participate in dual language learning, suggests that most students who learn in a second language do at least as well — if not better — on standardized tests than students who are not in a dual language program, said Casper-based language consultant Ann Tollefson.”

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.

Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman visits Chinese school

Utah’s former Governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman recently visited Hilton Head Island’s Chinese immersion program, reports the Island Packet. Huntsman, formerly an ambassador to China under the Obama administration, was instrumental in launching Utah’s immersion program.

Entrepreneur/parents raise cash for Mandarin school

I wonder how many venture capitalists we have in Utah who also happen to have kids enrolled in Chinese immersion. If you’re out there, here’s a nifty fundraising idea featured by Fortune/ CNN:

“A group of 20 Silicon Valley VCs are taking bids for lunch dates, with proceeds going to Presidio Knolls School , a startup Chinese immersion school based in San Francisco. So it’s really more about charity than narcissism, but there clearly are some bragging rights involved. And I wouldn’t even be surprised if certain limited partners keep tabs on which VCs did (and didn’t) garner high bids.”

Update on STARTALK

Many Utah parents have asked about the online portion of STARTALK.

Sandy Talbot at USOE reports that it will be available after the classroom STARTALK programs wind down. They should launch online sometime after July 1.

You’ll find it at utahchineseimmersion.org. Talbot said, “We’ll put an announcement on the front page of the website with a link to the STARTALK 2013 pages.”

How Can I Help My Child Learn Mandarin When I Don’t Speak It?

Often parents worry about how they will be able to help their children learn how to speak Chinese when they themselves don’t speak it. It can feel as daunting as hiking the complete length of the great wall of China!

But don’t worry! You don’t have to speak any Mandarin for your children to succeed. At the same time, you can provide your children with time to practice their Chinese during the school week. Just as skills like reading English and doing math need to be reinforced at home, so do the Chinese skills your child is learning. This does not need to be incredibly time-consuming. Fifteen to thirty minutes of Chinese time each school night can give your child the reinforcement he or she needs. The following are suggestions of how non-Chinese speaking parents can help create this Chinese time for their children.

1. Support your child in doing any Chinese homework they have. For example if s/he has a take home reading book listen to your child read it. If your child has spelling words, have them write the words two or three times each night. If your child doesn’t have homework, ask your teacher for some, or use some of the below resources. 15-30 minutes of Chinese practice at home can definitely help your child learn Chinese.

2. Currently, some schools use a Singapore reading curriculum. You access their website and have your children read you the books they are studying in school. The website can be a little difficult to navigate because it’s in Chinese, but don’t be intimidated – it really isn’t that hard, especially because your child can probably figure it out. If that fails, contact your child’s teacher.

3. Some students use Better Chinese. Your school may provide free or discounted membership; it is typically about $25.00 a year. Having your children read you the online stories can be very helpful for them to reinforce their reading skills.

4. Math flashcards that children can use to remember math vocabulary. (English translation here).

5. Digital flashcards based on the key vocab words are available to help your children reinforce their skills. First grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade. Notice that there are some games that can be played. Some are harder than others, “Scatter” is one that many children will enjoy.

6. Practice reading with Chinese Immersion teachers from Canada reading Chinese books.

7. Let your children watch Chinese video clips. For example, they can watch Dora the Explorer or  Spongebob Squarepants (note – both of those links are to YouTube-like sites that display ads. Putting the display to full-screen often eliminates the ad. Both of those links are for individual episodes; additional episodes appear underneath). Younger learners might enjoy Sesame Street or Thomas the Train in Chinese. Several other videos, songs, etc. are linked here.

Dora Chinese

8. Connect with other parents of immersion students and work together. Get connected if you aren’t already.

9. Help your children type in Chinese. This YouTube video explains how to make it so that you can type Chinese characters on your computer. Some children will have fun typing letters to each other using characters. For those who like pinyin, this macro can help you quickly transform a word like “wo3” into “wǒ.”

10. If you have a smart device, get some apps for your kids to play with. Speak and Learn Pro (iOS only) works like Rosetta stone, but much cheaper ($9.99). Should be a fun review for most students and a good way to reinforce learning.

The main thing is to keep on trying — a consistent effort to help your child spent 15-30 minutes a day having fun with Chinese at home can pay big dividends.

What tools/ideas have you found to be successful?