Tag Archives: parents

Asia Society to immersion programs: make parents your allies

Another great article from the Asia Society – this one quoting immersion pioneer and founding member of San Francisco’s Mandarin Immersion Parents Council, Elizabeth Weise.

Weise who is writing who is writing a guidebook for parents delivers my favorite observation: explaining “that mothers and fathers who have been absorbed by every moment of their children’s lives are jolted when their children enter a Chinese language program. Suddenly, ‘a curtain has come across six hours of their kid’s day. It is a black box. And if you don’t tell them what is happening, they’ll imagine it.'”

Remember, we are part of something great

By Kami McMaster, Ridgecrest Elementary Council Representative

Recently, members of the Utah Mandarin Immersion Parent Council (UMIC) board met with officials from Canyons School District, the Utah State Office of Education and the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah. We were educated in detail about the guest teacher program and the state’s vision for language immersion. We will share details about the guest teacher program in a separate post. Meanwhile, here’s why I left thinking: our children are privileged to be part of something great.

What sets Utah’s language immersion program apart:

Training – As most of you know, the program relies heavily on guest teachers from China and Taiwan due, in part, to the shortage of qualified homegrown educators with near-native speaking skills. These teachers enrich classrooms culturally, but also face a steep learning curve and their own cultural adjustment. To better prepare them for the rigors of American classrooms – including classroom management challenges they inevitably face – Utah puts them through two weeks of training. For teachers out of Hanban (a division of the ministry of education in China) this comes on top of two weeks of training provided by the Chinese government prior their stepping foot in the country. Local school districts further supplement this with their own training.

Curriculum development – In America, public school teachers are typically told what to teach, but now how to teach it. In other words, they are given a scripted curriculum, but are generally responsible for developing their own lesson plans. Utah’s immersion guest teachers, however, are given the whole package, lesson plans and all. The state is currently building a curriculum that will carry students from elementary school through junior high and beyond, and publishing supporting classroom materials, including supplemental readers. If a student chooses to stay in the program throughout high school the language proficiency goal for them is in the advanced range on the ACTFL proficiency scale. By comparison, most LDS missionaries return home at intermediate high proficiency.

Sustainability – Working with area universities, Utah education officials created a special endorsement, or certification, for immersion teachers. The goal is to grow and groom a local pool of teaching candidates. This takes time and the state is just now starting to see the fruits of its labor – the first graduates. In addition, Brigham Young University just announced an immersion minor. And state officials host an open house at the University of Utah each year to show bilingual college grads that teaching at an elementary school is a viable alternative to teaching a foreign language in high school or college.

In summary, from training our teachers to developing classroom texts, Utah is making a name for itself as a national leader in language immersion. We are a state to watch and recognized by many educators as “the place” to come and teach.
“These programs are being recognized because they are innovative, they are cost-effective, they are sustainable and they produce incredible results,” said Sandra Talbot, state Chinese immersion program director. “But more important than all of these worthwhile reasons is the impact they have on the individual – the student sitting in an immersion classroom who will change our world.”

What can parents do?

We are pioneers in this effort. For those of us with children “just starting out” and parents of kids among the “first group” of immersion learners at our respective schools, it may sometimes feel that the struggle is too much, the learning curve “too high.” We muddle through, breaking in new teachers each year as the program grows with our kids, with a level of “blind faith” that can make us anxious. But I am personally confident that, in the end, we will be glad and proud to say that our child attended Chinese dual immersion in Utah.

We need to be champions for this program and contribute time and resources to our schools. While the vision at the state level is grand, the implementation at our classroom level is a challenge, but a very exciting one. Our teachers need to be told they are doing a great job. Our principals need to be applauded for maintaining the program at our schools. Difficulties will arise, and we need to face them with positive attitudes and helpful actions. Stay involved with your individual child; look for cultural events to invite their excitement, and your own. Study the broad movement of dual immersion in the country and celebrate the results.

How is language immersion impacting your child?

Jeongwoon (Erin) Kim, a Ph.D. candidate at BYU is asking that very question of parents. I know plenty of us can attest to the changes we see in our kids, the lessons learned beyond just acquiring another language. I distinctly remember one mother saying how the immersion experience taught her son the value of hard work. He’s one of those kids who excels at everything. Having to sweat through something new and challenging is teaching him a valuable life lesson. I’m eager to hear the results of this study – which is IRB-approved. For those of you who don’t know, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee designated to approve, monitor and review research on humans to ensure it adheres to certain ethical guidelines.

Participation requires a confidential, in-person interview. Below is more detailed information. If you’re interested in participating, fill out the form below and email it to Erin at, gamjimuih@gmail.com.

Consent to be a Research Subject

This research study is being conducted by Jeongwoon Kim, a Ph.D. student in Instructional Psychology and Technology—Language Acquisition, at Brigham Young University to understand the impact of language immersion program on elementary school children from their parents’ perspective. John Hilton III, a professor of ancient scripture at BYU who has a Ph.D. in education, is a faculty advisor. You were invited to participate because your child(ren) is(are) enrolled in an elementary school language immersion program.


If you agree to participate in this research study, the following will occur:

  • you will be interviewed for approximately thirty minutes to an hour each time about your child(ren) and language immersion.
  • the interview will be audio recorded to ensure accuracy in reporting your statements
  • the interview will take place on BYU campus at a time convenient for you or it will take place at a time and location convenient for you
  • the researcher may contact you later to clarify your interview answers for approximately fifteen (15) minutes.
  • total time commitment will be thirty minutes to two hours.
  • you may be be interviewed once or twice more to accurately capture your perspective.

There are minimal risks for participation in this study. You may feel some discomfort when being audio recorded or talking about personal things. If you feel uncomfortable about answering a particular question, you may choose to decline or excuse yourself from the study.

There will be no direct benefits to you. It is hoped, however, that through your participation researchers may learn about the impact of language immersion in your child(ren)’s life and better them.


The research data will be kept in the researcher’s password-protected computer and only the researcher will have access to the data. At the conclusion of the study, all identifying information will be removed from the researcher’s personal computer and the data will be stored in the researcher’s locked cabinet/office.

There will be no direct compensation for participating in this study.


Participation in this research study is voluntary. You have the right to withdraw at any time or refuse to participate entirely.

Questions about the Research
If you have questions regarding this study, you may contact Jeongwoon Kim at (801)361-1766 or John Hilton III at (801-422-7394 for further information.

Questions about Your Rights as Research Participants
If you have questions regarding your rights as a research participant contact IRB Administrator at (801) 422-1461; A-285 ASB, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602; irb@byu.edu.

Statement of Consent
I have read, understood, and received a copy of the above consent and desire of my own free will to participate in this study.

Name (Printed): Signature Date: