Tag Archives: immersion

Come celebrate ‘Year of the Monkey’ at Lehi High

Lehi High’s Chinese students are hosting their annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Monday, Feb. 15th at 5 p.m. Admission is $2 per person. From 5-6:45 p.m. there will be about 25 booths with Chinese cultural activities and crafts for kids of all ages, followed by a short program with a Lion Dance and Dragon Dance at 7 p.m. Restaurants will be on hand to sell food—cash only. New activities this year include: knot tying, jump rope, fan dance, button making and much more.

2016 Lehi High small.jpg

2016 Lehi High schedule small.jpg


Summer camps abroad: Play with pandas in Chengdu

An interesting summer camp opportunity for your preteen:

Sino Language & Beyond has been a responsible and reliable immersion Chinese program provider for more than ten years. We take care of every detail of a summer Chinese camp to provide a great and safe learning experience to students. We remain dedicated to promoting cultural and educational exchange for young people between China and the U.S.

In the summer of 2015, students will have three options with two different locations to earn community service credits or to explore Chinese learning:

1. Volunteer with Pandas in Chengdu- Students can earn 55 community service hours.

2. Leadership & Service in Beijing- Students can obtain up to 80 community service hours.

3. Chinese Language & Culture, Beijing- Intensive Chinese learning at all levels and daily one-on-one oral practice with local students.

In addition, if there are more than EIGHT students in your school to participate one of our summer camps in 2015, the teacher/leader will be able to accompany students with the same trip free of charge. We will be very glad to provide more details about our summer camps in China, tailor-made school trips, as well as our TOTAL SOLUTION SERVICE.The relevant camp information, introduction and news about SLB are sent as attachments with this email.

Dear Vice Presidents, we appreciate your valuable time to view our outstanding summer camps in China, and to share this activity information with your students and parents through UMIC newsletter and by posting the camp information on your resource links.

Meanwhile, in order to convey our sincere support in your Chinese immersion program, Sino Language & Beyond will made a donation to your Chinese Immersion Program according to your students’ successful registration to our summer camps in China.

Please feel free to contact us (1-408-360 9958) at any time for any further information. And wish you have a wonderful working day and looking forward to hearing from you soon!!

Cultural exchange for elementary immersion students

Amanda Conklin, a parent at Wasatch Elementary is planning a trip for immersion students to Taiwan. Students can get penpals prior to going and they will be meeting at schools and doing other great activities. Please see the following for more details:

Dear Chinese Immersion Parents,

Su Ma Ma Chinese Club has initiated several large projects, with great success. Currently, one of these projects is the International Pen Pal Program. Students who participate in this program have fun sharing the culture with each other, not only by writing but also through themes that we talk about in class. Recently, one of our Taiwan Pen Pal Schools (Sagor School) visited Wasatch Elementary and Aspen Elementary. During this visit, the students from Taiwan participated in English classes and visited Chinese Immersion classes at the schools. Students from both countries enjoyed learning from each other. The teachers from Taiwan brought amazing lessons into the Chinese Immersion classes with storytelling and sciences. We are creating a similar experience for our students in Utah, and are planning a trip to Taiwan in June 2015. You can learn more about us by following us on Facebook at Su Ma Ma Chinese Club.

Benefits of this program trip to Taiwan:

  • We will visit most of our pen pal schools (Currently there are 8 Taiwanese schools participating).
  • Your children will be able to personally meet their pen pals.
  • Pen Pal Schools provide a safe learning environment and nice host families.
  • We will visit many beautiful national parks and cities.
  • We are providing a longer cultural experience with a very fair price.
  • Taiwan is a very safe and friendly country to visit. Taiwan has kept many Chinese traditions while adopting a westernized lifestyle.
  • Due to our Pen Pal School resources, we will be visiting Taiwan for 2015. In the future, we will provide similar program to China.

LEAF Cultural Exchange, LLC will help provide travel assistance by arranging airfare, transportation, food, host family, etc. The estimated cost of the trip will be approximately $2,850.00 to $3,400.00 for 4 weeks. A bigger group could help cut down the cost.

You are invited to attend a 90 minute informational meeting held at Provo School District Office PDC on Thursday, March 12th, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.

(280 West 940 North, Provo, Ut, 84604)

If you are interested in this incredible cultural opportunity, please contact us and plan to attend this meeting.

Amanda ConklinSu Ma Ma Chinese Club



Dorian ConklinLeaf Cultural Exchange



This trip is not a school district or state sponsored event.

Su Ma Ma Chinese Club, LEAF Cultural Exchange and Pen Pal Schools in Taiwan are organizing this trip.

Nation’s first publicly-funded Chinese immersion charter school


In a middle-class, Minneapolis neighborhood is the nation’s first Chinese immersion charter school, which has a goal of pushing its students to near-native bilingualism by 8th grade, reports The New York Times.

Some highlights from the story:

“Yinghua, which means ‘English Chinese,’ [opened] with just 76 students and four teachers in 2006,” and now has 660 students, the newspaper says. “The student-teacher ratio is 10 to one, and 78 percent of the teachers hold advanced degrees, many of them from American universities; three have Ph.D.’s.”

Unlike Utah’s dual-immersion model, Yinghua Academy is a total-immersion school, one of a handful in the country. This means Yinghua teaches all academic subjects in Chinese through fourth grade before moving to a half-English model for grades five to eight. “Our goal is real bilingualism by eighth grade, which is near native,” the school’s director, Luyi Lien told the NY Times.

As one parents puts it, “High expectations are yoked to high results.” The newspaper explains:

“In standardized tests, Yinghua students perform at least as well or better than their public school counterparts, even though English classes begin only at age 7. In Minnesota’s Multiple Measure Rating system, Yinghua has ranked within the top 15 percent of all Minnesota public schools for the past three years. (That includes the Focus Rate ranking, which measures the school’s reduction in the achievement gap between higher and lower socioeconomic groups).”

Enroll now in language immersion

Canyons School District is now accepting applications to its Dual Immersion Programs, according to the Deseret News.

“The deadline to submit an application is Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Parents and guardians who have questions about the programs are invited to attend a Parent Information Night on Thursday, Oct. 30, at the Canyons Support Services Center, 9361 S. 300 East. The event will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the facility’s Professional Development Center.

Canyons offers eight elementary dual language immersion programs: Mandarin Chinese-English programs are at Draper, Lone Peak and Ridgecrest elementary schools; French-English programs are at Butler and Oak Hollow elementary schools; and Spanish-English classes are taught at Alta View, Silver Mesa and Midvale elementary schools.

All programs except for the Midvale program are for students entering first grade for the 2015-16 school year. The Midvale Spanish-English dual-language immersion program is for students entering kindergarten for the 2015-16 school year.

A lottery will be held to determine entrance into the programs if the number of applications is greater than the number of space available in the classes.

For more information, call the district’s Evidence-Based Learning Department at 801-826-5045.”

Another Utah-China connection

Utah has more public school-based Mandarin immersion programs than any other state. We are the hometown of Jon Huntsman, former US Ambassador to China, Utah Governor and presidential candidate (also the father of an adopted Chinese girl).

And now this: Which is the most common country of origin for Utah immigrants, besides Mexico? You guessed it. China, according to this map drawn up by Slate using Homeland Security data.

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!



Don’t be this parent

Hope this tickles your funny bone. But it’s a humorous way to edge into a serious topic – bad blood sewn by those who treat immersion programs like an exclusive club.

Those who follow this blog have read about the rift at Lake Forest Elementary, an immersion school in the suburbs of Chicago. In Utah we’ve avoided this level of controversy, but it’s a nice reminder to be good stewards for our program, to be inclusive and to be thankful for the educational opportunities we’ve been given.

Our mantra for the week!

感谢 (gratitude)

公差 (tolerance)

开放胸襟 (open mindedness)

礼貌 (civility)

慷慨 (generosity)



Parents protest Chicago-area immersion school

Here’s what can happen when tight educational resources pit parents against each other.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

“A group of residents in Lake Forest say they’re angry at the Lake Forest School District 67 board for continuing a Mandarin Chinese language program at CherokeeElementary School despite a lack of state funding….

Some parents argue the program has created divisions resulting in an at-times hostile environment in the school. District officials respond that they’re looking into the culture created by the program, but say its educational successes are clear.”

This is why it’s important to create inclusive school atmospheres. If we hold a Chinese activity at school, for example, we invite all students and bill it as a multicultural opportunity. Utah also consciously designed its program to avoid arguments over funding.

In Utah school funding follows the student and is constant, whether that student is in an immersion classroom or a traditional classroom. So the myth that immersion programs cost extra money simply isn’t true.

Utah has also done a good job at keeping up with demand for immersion programs, growing them at rates unprecedented nationally. This isn’t to say there aren’t districts with waiting lists. But if you’re willing to drive your student to a non-neighborhood school, or another district, chances are good you’ll find a program.

To argue against immersion programs is like saying we should abolish all magnet programs along with special and gifted education classes. Why deny a child a chance at an appropriate education just because your child’s educational needs are different?

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.