Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Chinese classic for kids

One our Chinese moms found this YouTube link to TV series from the ’80s called, “Journey to the West.” It’s one of many modern adaptations of a “Chinese Classic,” she says.

The story has been remade into books, children’s plays and, most recently, into a big-budget theatrical version performed this summer to wide acclaim at the Lincoln Center in NY.

The YouTube series has poor resolution, but it’s fund to watch. Apparently a cartoon version also exists.

According to Wikipedia:
“Journey to the West is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. It was written in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty. Its authorship is attributed to Wu Cheng’en. In English-speaking countries, the work is widely known as Monkey, the title used for a popular and partial translation by Arthur Waley.

The novel is a fictionalized account of the legendary pilgrimage to India of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang, and loosely based its source from the historic text Great Tang Records on the Western Regions and traditional folk tales. The monk travelled to the “Western Regions” during the Tang Dynasty, to obtain sacred texts (sūtras). The bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin), on instruction from the Buddha, gives this task to the monk and his three protectors in the form of disciples — namely Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing — together with a dragon prince who acts as Xuanzang’s steed, a white horse. These four characters have agreed to help Xuanzang as an atonement for past sins.

Journey to the West has a strong background in Chinese folk religion, Chinese mythology and value systems; the pantheon of Taoist immortals and Buddhist bodhisattvas is still reflective of Chinese religious beliefs today. Enduringly popular, the tale is at once an adventure story, a spring of spiritual insight, and an extended allegory in which the group of pilgrims journeying toward India represents individuals journeying towards enlightenment.”

WSU panel on involving parents in Mandarin immersion

Drawing Strength for Learning Chinese Language: Immersing Parents Along With Students

Weber State University this weekend is holding its 2013 meeting of the Western Conference of the Association for Asian Studies. You can find the full schedule, here.

Of note to parents is a panel discussion about involving parents in Chinese immersion. Kami McMaster, one of UMIPC’s Regional Vice Presidents, is one of the panelists.

Time: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013   10:45am-12:15pm,
Location: Weber State University, Shepherd Union Building #321 (3848 Harrison Blvd. Ogden, Utah 84408)

Details: Join us, please, in a roundtable discussion for parents with children in Chinese Immersion Programs. Utah happens to be at the forefront of promoting Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL).  The school districts here in northern Utah have recently begun their fifth year of Chinese immersion.

Those of us affiliated with WCAAS see a need to examine the challenges faced by parents who do not speak Chinese.  In this roundtable discussion we will hear a variety of voices: administrators, teachers, parents, and students—each dedicated to making Chinese immersion work to its full potential.

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 deepens bond with China

Here’s a recap of Utah’s recent trade mission to China – as written up by officials at GOED.

Salt Lake City UTAH — Utah’s trade mission to China led by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) had a successful opening on Monday, with multiple presentations, press conferences and business matchmaking meetings in Chengdu, a city located in southwest China with a population of over 14 million. As the trade mission continues throughout this week trade bonds between Utah and China will be strengthened.

The trade mission began with an informative briefing by Consul General Peter Haymond, and Benjamin Wang, Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Southwest China. Their presentations centered on China’s current economic and political conditions, industry trends, and best practices. Highlighted were two U.S. companies who have already been conducting business in the area for some time and have seen significant growth in the Chengdu market.

Business matchmaking meetings are a key part of this trade mission, where participating Utah companies discuss business opportunities with potential Chinese parnters. Matchmaking meetings help Utah companies’ grow their business in foreign countries, which in turn helps create jobs in Utah as companies export more products or services.

“In Chengdu each of my meetings were very productive,” said David Utrilla, President and Chief Executive, U.S. Translation Company. “My goal for this trade mission was to explore doing business in China, and I am pleased that these companies are interested in establishing a formal working relationship and that this took such a short time to accomplish.”

Representatives from GOED held a tourism press conference and a foreign direct investment presentation on Monday as well to eager Chinese participants.  International investment by Chinese firms is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade. The foreign investment seminar objective was to highlight some current projects and make sure Utah is included in the site selection process as Chinese companies look for opportunities in the U.S.

“Over 30 potential investors attended the foreign direct investment presentation, many of which expressed positive feedback and genuine interest in Utah,” said Brett Heimburger, Asia-Pacific Director, GOED. “Several investors in attendance have recently traveled to Utah to perform due diligence in various investment projects, and I am confident we will see an increase in foreign direct investment in the near future.”

Attendees of the tourism press conference were mesmerized by Utah’s natural landscapes, ease of access to Utah’s recreations areas and the number of national and state parks Utah has to offer.

“I had no idea Utah has such beautiful scenery, I’m very eager to see it with my own eyes,” said General Secretary of Sichuan Chamber of Foreign Oriented Small and Medium Enterprises.

The day culminated with a well-attended reception at which over 175 professionals from business, government, and education communities networked. Present from Utah were State Senators Bramble, Knudson, and Valentine who represented the Utah legislature in meetings with Chinese government officials. Provo Mayor John Curtis was also in attendance and was warmly received as he wowed the attendees by addressing them in Mandarin Chinese.

Utah has one of the largest Mandarin Chinese immersion programs in the country, and many Chinese business leaders were pleased to learn that so many Utahns are learning Mandarin. This development is an indication that Utah not only leads the nation in economic development and job creation, but also is a friendly and welcoming state for international business.

How should schools test proficiency in a foreign language?

Immersion programs across the country are grappling with how to measure language proficiency – how much Mandarin, Spanish, French, etc. students are acquiring.

Utah is using a fluency-testing tool used by the U.S. military and State Department (among other groups), adapting it for younger learners, so that it’s age-appropriate.

Minnesota is pursuing a different strategy: using translated versions of the same assessments that all Minnesota school children take. In other, words, they’re testing students’ knowledge of content in both English and their target language – at least, for Spanish learners.

“For Chinese immersion teachers, finding materials that meet the same standards as English language resources is a more difficult task,” According to the St. Cloud Times.

Like many Chinese immersion programs, Minnesota schools have to develop Mandarin curricula, lesson plans and testing materials from scratch. They’re working with professors at St. Cloud State University to develop their Chinese assessments, reports the St. Cloud Times

“Immersion is fairly new concept in the (education) field,” said an education official quoted by the Times. “We’ve been watching very closely as resources become available, but at this point there are no practical Chinese tests.”

Minnesota has seven Chinese immersion schools and 29 Spanish immersion programs.

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.

Should Children Only Speak Mandarin in the Classroom?

The question comes up from time to time, “Should children in Mandarin Immersion programs only speak Mandarin in the classroom?” In a word, “yes!” The exception of course could be for kindergarten or first semester first grade students. But by January of first grade, the Chinese Immersion classroom should be a “Chinese only zone.”

This can be a real challenge for teachers, and we are grateful to the teachers who work diligently to enforce the “No English” policy. This is the way to really help our children develop fluency. The Utah immersion policy is that students and teachers only speak the target language in class after the first semester of first grade. If you see something different happening, you should take the opportunity to talk to your principal so that maximum learning can take place.

And for all of the great mothers out there, here is a song you might want to teach your children. It’s called “Ting Mama de Hua” (“Listen to what your mother says.”)