Tag Archives: Utah

Keep those Mandarin skills fresh this summer

Worried about your kids slipping behind on their Mandarin this summer? Here’s a list of study aids, including a set of grade-appropriate flashcards developed by a group of UMIPC parents in coordination with Utah teachers.

These tools can always be found on our “resources” page. But I thought I’d call it to everyone’s attention.


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. And there are lots of resources available! The following are suggestions of how you can help your children learn Chinese.

Top Ten

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 translationhere).

5. Digital flashcards based on the key vocab words are available to help your children reinforce their skills. First gradesecond gradethird gradefourth 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 Exploreror  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.

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.

More resources – Dictionaries, pinyin generators, flash cards and learning sites

www.archchinese.com – Great for generating worksheets for handwriting practice. The site also has an animation tool showing you the stroke order for 7,000 frequently used characters.
Google translate  – not always accurate, but helpful
http://www.nciku.com/  – another dictionary
Pleco– Chinese dictionaries, flash cards, etc. for ipad and iphone

Chinese Books, media, toys and art supplies

Little Monkey – online store
Eastern Trends – locally-produced Chinese newspaper, great for current events
Youku– China’s version of YouTube
CNTV – China’s national network TV
CNTVenglish – learn survival Chinese

Must-reads for parents 
Asia Society: What Research Tells us About Immersion – great primer
Utah Dual Immersion Language Program – official web site

Show, don’t just tell your kids Mandarin is important. Learn a little Mandarin, too!
The Rosetta Stone – Preferred by corporations and the U.S. military. Expensive, but some school districts offer group discounts.
Foreign Service Institute –  Free and government-approved
University of Utah’s Confucius Institute – Live, in-person college-level instruction

Other Links

Utah State Office of Education
Official site for Utah’s Chinese Immersion Program 
Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition
Utah Foreign Language Association – comprised of foreign language teachers
American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages – created our assessments
Center on Applied Linguistics
Council on Standards for International Educational Travel – vet foreign exchange programs
Asia Society
Star Talk
Canyons School District Immersion Program 
Our Facebook page!



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 http://mylotusacademy.yolasite.com.

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 amandasuconklin@yahoo.com.

A new startup company called Cube Incubators (https://cubeincubators.com/passport/#passport) 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: https://continue.utah.edu/youth/chinese_immersion_camp.

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 maryannobrien@yahoo.com could answer registration questions.

If you hear of other organized summer camps, please let me know and I will post them on our website (https://utahimmersioncouncil.org/).


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: http://www.wesingwelearn.eventbrite.com

wswl camp-2





Host an exchange student from China this summer

A group of Chinese teens, between the ages of 13-15, is coming to Utah to live with American families this summer. Compass USA is looking for families willing to hose one to two children from July 8-21st.

Hosting is fun and a great way to learn about another culture and language, say Compass USA, which sponsors the exchange. Students will be involved in a school program in the Draper area four days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rest of the time students will join your family in your regular activities meals.

For more information, contact Wendy Hadden at wendy@hadden3.com



Families needed to house Taiwanese exchange students

For five consecutive summers CHHS, a private prep school in Tawain, has brought a group of junior high and high school students to Utah to study English, live with host families and experience America.  
The school is in need of host families for the summer of 2014.
See the attached flier and video for more information. Or contact: centerville.chinese@gmail.com  / 435-764-0015

Study abroad in China this summer

The University of Utah’s Confucius Institute is now taking registrations for its summer abroad program. The Summer Scholars Study Abroad (June 5th-July 4th, 2014) is open to High School Students (9th-12th grade) who will have completed at least 2 years of Chinese by the time of the trip.

Participants will fly in to Beijing and spend the first two weeks studying either at Beijing No. 4 High School (a highly prestigious High School) or Nankai University in Tianjin, then spend two more weeks at Sichuan University in Chengdu. Students will participate in intensive Chinese study Monday through Friday, with recreational/educational excursions on the weekends.

The trip is estimated to cost $3700 (not including food; with the current exchange ratio 1:0.16). Scholarships are available for students at the Annual BYU Language Fair in April. The Confucius Institute is applying for a grant funding in January to subsidize student costs. There will also be service opportunities in the summer working as teacher aides for elementary Chinese language summer camps for those who choose to participate, which will also offset costs.  The institute also encourages students to work with their school community or Chinese class for fundraising; for example, a Chinese New Year activity with charged admission.

Spots are limited to 15 students, and will be granted on a first come first serve basis to qualified students. Students will also need to provide a teacher recommendation from their current Chinese teacher.

Register now!

Embedding cultural lessons in language immersion programs


Utah is not a big destination for Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants – at least, not on the scale of coastal cities like San Francisco or New York.

Exposing our children to different cultures – one of the reasons many parents enroll their children in language immersion programs – takes a little extra effort and creativity.

Culture is embedded in our language, which is why it’s an important supplement to language education. It enriches the learning experience and gives language learners greater depth of knowledge. Someone can describe a tree to you, but until you touch one, drink in its scent or stand beneath the cool shade of its leaves, how well do you know a tree?

It is with this understanding that parents and teachers at Ridgecrest Elementary in Cottonwood Heights, UT arranged two Chinese New Year celebrations: a musical performance put on by the students and a school-wide assembly featuring a professional lion dance.

The lion dance was sponsored by the Chinese Society of Utah. Parents and teachers donated money and time to make costumes and treats. Students spent countless hours rehearsing their songs. It was a wonderful example of a community coming together to support its children and advance education.


image image-2

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

It’s the year of the horse, an animal that “symbolizes strength, energy and open-mindedness, according to sponsors of a celebratory event at The City Library.

The event is free and open to the public and will feature a traditional Chinese lion dance, music, children’s activities – even a magic show. Jointly hosted by the Chinese Association for Science and Technology in Utah and the City Library, the event is partially underwritten by the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah. The lion dance will start Feb. 1 at 1:45 p.m. in the Urban Room, with additional cultural activities continuing at 2 p.m. in the Auditorium. An exhibit of Chinese Calligraphy will be on display in the Lower Urban Room from Jan 27–Feb 1.

Chinese New Year events in Utah

For the Chinese, ushering in the New Year is the biggest celebration of the year – 2014 is the year of the horse. And preparations are underway for Utah’s largest Chinese New Year event at Cottonwood High School.

The 2014 event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at Cottonwood High School (5715 South 1300 East, Murray, UT 84121). It’s free and will feature dancing, singing, martial arts, magic shows, musical performances, etc. For more information visit: http://www.utahchinese.org/default.htm.

Other events:

It’s not tied to the New year, but as part of its new bilingual mission, Southern Utah’s Washington County School District is ramping up efforts to organize cultural events and activities.

Following you’ll find information about a free dinner and movie sponsored by the district’s Confucius Institute and a great introductory course for parents of Mandarin learners.

Jan 16 Invitation Color

Community Chinese Class Jan 2014

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.