Tag Archives: University of Utah

Last Chance Chinese Summer Camp


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)

Time to enroll in U of U Chinese summer camp

Back by popular demand, the University of Utah’s Confucius Institute is sponsoring a weekly Chinese summer camp for immersion students.

There are age-appropriate sections for all grades at locations throughout Salt Lake, Utah, Weber and Washington counties.

Registration is open now for camps at the U.’s satellite campus in Sandy. Other camps should be open on Monday. Register for the grade your child is going into.


Teacher training opportunity in Utah

The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah is proud to present the 2014 Gateway to Learning Educator Workshops. These weeklong summer workshops allow teachers throughout Utah to attend professional development classes taught by distinguished humanities professors and earn graduate university credit, all at a minimal cost. This summer we will offer seven workshops covering a variety of topics (please see link below to brochure for complete information). Registration for the workshops will begin on April 1, 2014 at noon through the Tanner Center’s website: www.thc.utah.edu.

This year’s program includes a workshop titled “Survey of Ancient Chinese Civilization,” which will will offer a broad survey of ancient Chinese civilization by examining texts from philosophy, history, literature, and art. If possible, could you please share this information with Mandarin Dual Language Immersion teachers? Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you would like any additional information.

2014 Gateway to Learning Workshops Brochure

For more information, contact:

Josh Elstein
Programming and Marketing
Tanner Humanities Center
University of Utah
(801) 585-9341

Autumn festival, multicultural event and calligraphy demo

Looking for opportunities to expose your Mandarin learner to Chinese culture, food and art? Here are three can’t-miss cultural events happening in Utah this fall:

Autumn Festival

Saturday, September 28, 11am

Come for the rededication of the Chinese Garden at the International Peace Garden at Jordan Park. Sponsored by the Chinese Cultural Center Association, Chinese Society of Utah (Taiwan) and Bing Kong Tong, the event will feature a flag ceremony and lunch will be served. It is free and open to the public. Directions: Peace Garden, Large East Pavilion at Jordan Park (1060 South 900 West).

Multicultural Festival

Saturday, September 28, 11am-3pm

The Viridian Event Center in West Jordan is hosting a Multicultural Festival featuring musicians, dancers, artisans, crafts, vendors and community groups. The event is free and open to the public.  Directions: 8030 South 1825 West, West Jordan, UT 84088

Chinese Calligraphy Demonstration

Saturday, Oct. 5, 2 p.m.

Also at the Viridian Event Center on Saturday, Oct. 5: an afternoon of Chinese calligraphy. There will be a presentation, live demonstration and exhibit by Cao Shanhua, a well-known calligrapher from China , jointly hosted with the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah. Directions: Viridian Center, 8030 South 1825 West, West Jordan, UT 84088

Utah welcomes 22 new Chinese guest teachers

I had the pleasure to take part in a cultural exchange to welcome our guest teachers from China.  The University of Utah’s Confucius Institute asked if a group of parents would be willing to host Sunday dinner for two to three teachers. The idea was to show them American “micro-culture” in all its messed up glory. The Hanban, a division of the Ministry of Education in China – working with the Confucius Institute and College Board – furnished Utah with 22 guest teachers this year. In total there are upwards of 40 Hanban teachers in our schools, more than anywhere else in the country.

Helping them acclimate and feel welcome is a big job shouldered by the state, school districts and the Confucius Institute, which, according to its newsletter, “logged a lot of miles” on its bus this August taking teachers on a tour-de-Utah. They visited ski resorts, the Mormon temple and state Capitol, among other places, for a taste of our geography, climate, food and government.

Frankly, I’m not sure what they learned from their visit to my home. I couldn’t stop peppering them with questions about China! The three women were gracious guests, each from different provinces. Two were headed to teach in Washington County, one in St. George and another in Hurricane. The third will teach in Layton. They left family, including children, to be here. And they all seemed to have a keen sense for adventure, which is good (they’ll need it!).

I only wish we were given more time to get to know one another. Here’s wishing them a fulfilling and successful school year!





Not too late to enroll in STARTALK summer camp

Did you miss out on STARTALK summer camps?

Due to increased demand the University of Utah’s Confucius Institute has opened new STARTALK camp sections for grades 3-4.

HELPFUL HINT: You are supposed to enroll in the grade your child just finished – NOT the grade he or she enters this fall.

Here is the direct link: http://continue.utah.edu/search/advanced?s=chinese&searchglass.x=0&searchglass.y=0&searchglass=Submit

Solutions to foreign language teacher shortage

Some say language immersion programs are a fad. But their steady pace of worldwide growth suggests otherwise.

For a glimpse at the future: just look at Canada, the birthplace of modern immersion. About 8 percent of the public school students in British Columbia are enrolled in French immersion, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Increased competition for qualified teachers has contributed to a foreign language teacher shortage. In Ohio, demand for immersion teachers has long outpaced supply, according to news reports. The shortage is especially acute for Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Portuguese programs, in part because businesses, hungry for bilingual workers, woo educators away from classrooms with the promise of higher earnings.

Utah isn’t immune to the shortages. But our reputation and leadership role has given it us an edge in recruiting, says Utah Chinese Immersion Program Director Sandy Talbot. “We receive applications from across the country. Universities tell their graduates, ‘If you’re interested  in teaching immersion, look to Utah.’  But a lot of [college education degree programs] don’t have the qualifications we require.”

Some states, including Oregon, are remedying the problem by going virtual and having teachers conduct online lessons from their homeland.

China, which struggles to recruit English teachers, is deploying a similar strategy.

But Utah –  taking a longer view, and benefitting from the mistakes of others who have been doing immersion for far longer – started growing and grooming a local pool of teaching talent from day one. The state’s five major universities offer an endorsement for immersion teachers. Talbot says corporate head hunting groups have also offered to help recruit teachers. To be hired as a non-native speaker, you must first pass a PRAXIS test, “a difficult oral interview and reading and writing test,” of a person’s fluency, she said. State education officials also do open houses to encourage foreign language educators-in-training to consider jobs in elementary schools. Previously, the only option was to teach in secondary schools. 

“It takes time. You don’t just do this overnight. But we are starting to see the fruits of three years of work,” said immersion director at Canyons School District, Ofelia Wade.

Today the state employs close to 100 Chinese teachers, about a third of them from overseas. These guest teachers enrich the program culturally and expose children to native accents, which is especially important with a tonal language like Chinese. But they come here on J-1 visas and by federal law can only stay here for up to three years with approval from the district. Most stay for one or two years because they have jobs and lives to get back to at home, Talbot says.

Another pathway to teaching for native speakers is through universities. Students from other countries who complete graduate programs in the U.S. can stay and work here for one year under an F-1 visa. They call this occupational training, and though limited to one year, it is a pathway to another visa known as HIB and later, a green card, which allows them to stay longer. The University of Utah has a master’s of world language program with seven native speakers on the F-1 track, says Talbot. The process is expensive, however, and often requires getting a lawyer involved to handle paperwork.

High teacher turnover has been a concern in some immersion classrooms. 
“Guest teachers are not the long term solution,” but will remain part of the solution, said Talbot. “We won’t do away with the program, because they bring a cultural component.”

Among the unsung benefits: Teachers recruited through the Hanban, a division of the Chinese Ministry of Education, go through two months of cultural indoctrination and classroom management training – six weeks in China, two weeks at the University of California, Los Angeles and two weeks in Utah at the AUDI conference where they’re exposed to the curriculum and lesson plans, Talbot said. These teachers also come with a $13,000 stipend. Some districts take a portion of this off the top of their salary and use it to hire classroom aids or interns.

The teachers are solicited and the top ones picked by the Hanban. They are among the best educators in their country, reliable and expected to be good ambassadors for the country, said Talbot. “Last year 3,000 teachers applied in China and only 300 to 400 accepted [by the Hanban].” Talbot is on a national Council of State Supervisors of Foreign Language appointed by the College Board to fly to Beijing once a year to interview and place these teachers in program across the country. “Last year I interviewed for Utah and seven other states,” she said.  “We place all of the teachers in the schools while we are in China. I go there knowing what the schools need.”

Of the eight Hanban teachers hired in 2012-13, only one returned home at the end of the year, said Talbot. “The rest are staying for another year.”
Previously Utah also recruited out of Taiwan, but has temporarily suspended its memorandum of understanding with the country. The government there decided it could not financially support the program, said Talbot.

Each school district also appoints officials – a welcoming committee of sorts – to help guest teachers get settled. But parents, too, should reach out to their principals with offers of help. Try to imagine the obstacles these teachers face when they get here. Little things like securing and furnishing apartments, getting a driver’s license and opening bank accounts.

You can help by inviting your teacher over for dinner or for a weekend getaway to the mountains or southern Utah dessert. Offer to be on-call to answer questions.  The experience is bound to be personally enriching and teachers will, no doubt, remember these warm gestures when they return home.