Tag Archives: immersion

Free Chinese literacy resources

Ever on the hunt for free Mandarin resources to support my kids, I stumbled upon these beauties:

Character Practice
Visit this website daily for introduction to one word-a-day.

Reading Practice
This website is chock-full of age-appropriate reading materials for your Mandarin learner. Click “read more” under each book title and you’ll see entire texts translated in Mandarin and English. If your kids struggle to understand all the characters, you can copy and paste them into a pinyin generator.

A must-read for all immersion parents

This handbook from the Asia Society may be a familiar resource to many parents of Mandarin learners. But considering it’s the start of a new school year with a fresh batch of students and parents, I wanted to draw attention to it again.

It’s a must-read primer on the best models for Mandarin immersion. It helped me understand what’s expected of our children – and, in turn, what to expect from our schools.  Four years into Mandarin immersion with my oldest son, I’m still on a steep learning curve. But this handbook is a nice place to start.

Here’s a teaser:

“Over the last four decades, immersion programs in many languages have seen slow but steady growth in U.S. schools. Most immersion programs offered European languages, with a small number in other languages. Much of what is known about immersion’s effectiveness has been gleaned from these programs. Their experiences provide useful guidance about options for program models, teaching strategies, literacy development, and time allocation for both the immersion language and English. While we know a great deal about what works in immersion and why, we are still discovering the aspects of this kind of education that can be appropriately applied to Chinese instruction.

Prior to 2000, in the U.S. there were fewer than ten public or private elementary school immersion programs in either Standard Chinese or Cantonese. They led the way for the approximately seventy new programs now operating, most of which are still in their infancy. The pioneer programs have addressed the same issues that now face their newer counterparts, exploring solutions to common questions such as the following:

  • Which type of program model is most suited to Chinese immersion: Most or all of the school day taught in Mandarin, a fifty-fifty division between Chinese and English, or some other distribution of time?
  • What are the qualifications for teaching in Chinese immersion? Where can we find highly qualified teachers? What does high-quality Chinese immersion instruction look like?
  • What curricula and instructional materials are already available for Chinese immersion?
  • How might we approach literacy development in Chinese?

The teachers and administrators from the long-standing Chinese immersion programs generously shared their expertise and resources with one another as well as with the newly emerging programs around the country. They answer numerous inquiries made by email or phone, they cheerfully host visitors, and they network with one another and collaborate on important projects.”


Flash cards for grades 1-3

Immersion parents are an innovative and busy bunch. One of our parents in the Jordan School District created these flash cards for use by students in grades 1-3.

On our “Resources” page you’ll find more, free online flashcards carefully tailored to Utah’s immersion curriculum: First grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade.



Language immersion: making the case for all-day kindergarten

Chiming in on national press coverage of Utah’s Mandarin immersion program, this Provo Herald guest editorial raises an interesting question.

Citing from an article in Time Magazine, Duane Jeffrey, emeritus professor of biology at Brigham Young University, points to research findings “frightening to an old codger” like him:  “The sensitivity for learning languages peaks at about 9 months of life.”

If this is true, why don’t all of Utah’s immersion programs start in kindergarten – or preschool, for that matter?

The answer, I’m sure, is multifaceted but has something to do with the fact that Utah doesn’t fund universal, all-day kindergarten. Could immersion programs be the thing that convinces lawmakers to rethink that policy? I wonder.

New to UMIPC? Here’s what you’ve missed

We have many new “followers,” so I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of recent, popular posts.

I encourage you to spend some time exploring this web site. Click on the header, “Contact Us” to see if there’s a council representative at your school. Contact that person and ask how you can get involved. If you find no one listed, contact a regional VP and volunteer your name.

This is meant to be an interactive forum. If you know of a cool cultural event, learning web site or app, please share!

Keep your kids’ skills fresh over the summer
Compiled by several council representatives, our resources page includes a link to interactive flash cards paired to Utah’s curriculum. Think of it as a grade-by-grade list of Mandarin words your kids should know.

STARTALK Summer Camp
Thanks to the amazing efforts of Sandy Talbot at the Utah State Office of Education, Utah students have had the chance this summer to participate in a free Chinese reading camp. Funded by a grant, it’s the largest STARTALK program in the country. If you missed it, don’t worry. An online version of the camp will launch on July 1.

UVU’s Chinese Summer Days
An immersion-style two-day camp where kids are encouragd to speak only Chinese. Parents may also participate – and it’s free.

News of the day

Two interesting news items I encountered over the past few weeks:

“How China views the world,” according to Time Magazine (you need to subscribe/pay to read it).

Another dispatch on the benefits of being bilingual. If you’ve signed up your kids for immersion, you probably don’t need convincing. Still, this summarizes some of the latest research in an easy-to-digest way.

UVU’s summer camp, “Chinese Summer Days”

I’ve been waiting for Utah Valley University to announce dates for its Chinese Summer Days camp. Finally I stumbled across information online.

This is a great opportunity for kids to practice their Chinese in a fun, supportive atmosphere. And it gives parents a chance to meet and learn from one another.

It’s an immersion-style, two-day camp where kids are encouragd to speak only Chinese. Parents learn a little Chinese, too! And it’s free.

Dates:  Thursday, July 25th – Friday, July 26th
Time:  10:00 AM-2:00 PM (Check-in at 9:15 AM on Thursday)
Place: UVU Sorensen (Student) Center
Thursday 7/25 – Classroom Instruction
9:15-10:00 Registration (alphabetical last name groupings)
10:00-10:15 Opening Ceremony & Instructions
10:15-10:30 Dismiss to classrooms
10:30-11:00 Session #1
11:05-11:35 Session #2
11:40-12:10 Session #3
12:10-12:40 LUNCH (provided for children only)
12:45-1:15 Session #4
1:20 –1:50 Session #5
1:50- 2:00 Closing Instructions/T-Shirt distribution for Day #2
Day 2
Friday 7/26 – Village
10:00-10:50 Students return to the same classroom as Session #5  from Day 1, to prepare for performances.
11:15-12:00 Student/Parent performances in the Grand Ballroom
12:00-1:50   An afternoon in China (Chinese Village activities)
1:50-2:00     Closing ceremony
Immersion Environment: This camp is intended to be an immersion-style learning experience.  English will not be spoken during the classes and activities, and children will be encouraged to use what Chinese they know/ learn, to communicate.  If your child is not an experienced Chinese speaker, help him/her be ready for a certain degree of initial frustration.  Once accustomed to it, it becomes like a game for most children to try to communicate without using English. This will be a major adjustment for students who plan to enter Dual-Immersion programs in the Fall, so this is a good warm-up for that.

Class Format (Children): The students will be rotating through 5 different classes with cultural-centered themes. The sessions are 30 minutes long and it is preferred that children wait until the break to visit the restroom. An assistant will be on hand to chaperone restroom breaks as students change locations.  Registered Adults will be in a separate class.  Parents will not be going to classes with the children.

Lunch for Children: All students will be provided with a box lunch on Day 1.  Lunch will take place in the Grand Ballroom. On Day 2, students will earn tokens by completing tasks in the Chinese village. These tokens can be used to purchase Chinese food from vendors in the village. Students must use Chinese to select their food, and we’ll have coaches on-hand to assist as needed.

Lunch for Adults: Adults are responsible for providing their own lunch. There are many eateries in the Sorensen Center, or you may bring a lunch from home on Day 1. On Day 2, a Chinese plate will be available for purchase for $7. This will include:
Ham Fried Rice
Low Mein Noodles
Sweet & Sour Chicken
Stir Fry Beef & Broccoli
Egg Roll
Fortune Cookie
Bottled Water
Note:  Adults will purchase meal tickets at food booth
Class Format (Adults): Chinese instruction for adults will not be an immersion  experience, although there will be speaking opportunities!  You might want to bring something to take notes with, and a folder to keep handouts in.
Registration is open now through July 16. Click here.

More Utah middle-schooler’s choosing Chinese

UPR profiles growth in popularity of Chinese in middle school. An excerpt:

“Lehi Junior High School Chinese teacher Natasha Tanner…started the Chinese program at the school two years ago.

‘I always try to teach my kids to be ‘yǒu bàn fǎ’ students which means students that are problem solvers, that have a can-do attitude.’

After starting the Chinese program from scratch with no students, Natasha now has 168 students signed up for Chinese 1 and Chinese 2 language classes next year.

Part of that success comes from Chinese immersion programs that can be found in schools across the state. Utah alone has one-third of all Chinese immersion programs in the country.”


Why one mom’s son is quitting Chinese school

One of the great side benefits of Chinese immersion is it exposes you to another culture. Getting to know some of our guest teachers from Taiwan and China has been an eye-opener for me, especially as I’ve come to better know the Chinese educational system.

For a great first-person account of what it’s like to attend school in China, check out this blog written by a travel writer/ mom who crosses the globe with her 11-year-old boy.

After three months attending a Chinese school her son has decided to call it quits. Learning the language hasn’t been easy. But the source of his angst is the back-breaking rigors of Chinese education – 70 hours a week of fast-pace instruction with little time after school or on weekends for hanging with friends.


Canada’s immersion graduates grow up and raise bilingual kids

The Globe and Mail offers this fascinating look at the coming of age of Canada’s French immersion program, which took root in the 70s but saw dramatic growth over the past decade. Some education officials surmise they’re seeing the next immersion wave – children of immersion graduates who want to pass bilingualism onto their kids.

Imagine the ripple effect of Utah’s immersion program 30 years from now. Will bilingualism be the new norm? And how will this change cultural customs and our understanding of the world? What new opportunities will be opened to residents of the state?

Highlights from the Globe and Mail:

“A 1990 study of an early wave of French immersion graduates in Saskatchewan found that more than 80 per cent said they wanted their children to follow in their footsteps by pursuing immersion.

“We’re now seeing a generational transition,” Mr. Rothon said. “It hasn’t really been documented yet. Once we start seeing its extent we should start to see it influencing government policy.”

Mr. Rothon said the children of immersion are creating something like a new linguistic category. They go home to environments where one or two parents are capable of speaking French with them and helping with their homework. It’s not the same as living in an easily defined anglophone or francophone environment, yet it still represents a change from earlier generations. By choosing to continue with French immersion into a second generation, these families are saying, “This is part of how we grew up and this is who we are as Canadians,” Mr. Rothon said.”