Monthly Archives: June 2013

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:

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.

The BBC on Mandarin immersion in the US (and US-China business…)

Mandarin Immersion Parents Council

US-China summit: California welcomes rise of Asian giant

Oakland waterfrontThe run down Oakland waterfront has seen a $1.5bn investment from China

Five-year-old Eli is perhaps the face of America’s future.

He looks a little nervous going in front of his 15 fellow pupils in his kindergarten class in a San Francisco school and reading out the children’s duties for the day.

His nerves are understandable. He’s speaking in a difficult, foreign language – Mandarin Chinese.

Behind him, an elegantly drawn poster of the sea, the sun, clouds and a ship, their names spelt out in Chinese characters.

This is Presidio Knolls School, where they practise what they call “total immersion” learning, speaking Chinese from day one.

Here, on the Pacific Ocean, where a third of the population are ethnic Chinese, President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia seems only natural.

Eli’s mother, Mikhal Bouganim, says: “As an economic and…

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Chinese literacy is “Chineasy”

There’s an interesting debate in China, and abroad, about the future relevance of Chinese characters. Just the other day I spoke to a language expert who said today’s Chinese youths often type in pinyin (alphabetized Chinese) and use word processing software to turn their words into traditional or simplified characters.

This begs the question: should Mandarin learners practice writing the characters, agonizing over the correct stroke order, or should the focus be character recognition? A similar question faces American educators regarding the value of teaching cursive.

According to this featured “TED talk” speaker, learning the characters doesn’t have to be a chore. ShoaLan has devised a clever way to demystify the characters and make them more accessible, more easily memorized.

A she offers these words of encouragement: you only need to know 200 characters to be able to “get by” in China, or read menus, street signs and newspapers!

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

Bilingual celebrities

“What do Sandra Bullock, Viggo Mortensen, and Mila Kunis have in common,” asks Parade Magazine. “They’re all bilingual!”

OK, I usually avoid celebrity “news” stories like the plague. But I couldn’t resist this one. Parade Magazine says:
“Sandra Bullock is fluent in German. Her mother was a German opera singer, and Bullock lived with relatives in Germany and Austria for several years as a child.”

Who knew?

Texas, where everything is big, even the Mandarin immersion schools

A comprehensive argument for a Texas-sized immersion program by Elizabeth Weise at MIPC. What is Houston doing right?

Mandarin Immersion Parents Council

Houston bannerHouston, where everything is big, even the Mandarin immersion schools

By Elizabeth Weise

To the rest of the country this might seem like an odd statement, but here goes. If you were going to design the best public Mandarin immersion school you possibly could, it would probably look a lot like the one that launched in September of 2012—in Houston, Texas.

Houston? Really.

Yes, Houston. Really. When the Houston Independent School District decided to create a Mandarin immersion school it didn’t do as many districts do:

  • Houston didn’t make Mandarin a single strand in a larger school, making it impossible for the school’s culture to focus on Chinese.
  • Houston didn’t put just one classroom per grade in, which makes for tiny classes in the upper grades as students move, often requiring a difficult to teach fourth/fifth split grade class.
  • Houston didn’t place it as one small strand in a larger…

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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.”