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Marshfield, WI seeks to attract Chinese high school students

July 28, 2015

This is a fascinating trend. I presume the high school is not overcrowded, and presumably this brings in money, as well as adding an interesting cultural experience for the high school students.  I keep saying there’s an opportunity for someone to create an immersion boarding school for English and Chinese-speaking students in the U.S., though I’m not sure how the Chinese families would feel about having their kids take any classes in Chinese.

The Marshfield School District is working to develop a program for Chinese students to attend the high school for the 2016-2017 school year.

Through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin, the Marshfield School District plans to develop a program for Chinese students to pay tuition to attend classes and graduate from Marshfield High School, said Mike Nicksic, an assistant principal at the school who is involved in the immersion program. Following graduation, the Chinese students could qualify to attend college at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County.

Marshfield’s sky of stars surprises Chinese students
Liz Welter, News-Herald Media 4:22 p.m. CDT July 27, 2015

MARSHFIELD – The glow of the nighttime sky with its vast array of twinkling stars is a new sight for the 16 teenage students from China who are participating this summer in an English immersion program at Marshfield High School.

“We don’t see stars,” said Zhang Le Tao, 17, who prefers the nickname George. The air and light pollution in his home city create a haze so the stars aren’t visible, he said.

His hometown in southeastern China, Zhiangjiagang, has about 1.3 million people, plus skyscrapers and heavy vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

“The environment here (is) very nice,” George said while he and the students were at the district’s school forest Friday. George looked up to the sky and said, “Very blue. Clouds very white. Not like China. Here, the air (is) fresh.”

Please read more here.

Palo Alto parents was more immersion (but teachers don’t)

July 18, 2015

Survey: Differing visions for world-language programs

Palo Alto students, parents and teachers weigh in on immersion versus traditional language instruction

• Read Entrepreneurial mom pairs Mandarin tutors with immersion students

• Read Palo Alto students, teachers give mixed opinions on foreign-language education

As the Palo Alto school district likely faces a debate in the new school year over the future of its world-language programs, new survey data offers insight into how students, teachers and parents overlap and differ on the subject.

While Palo Alto parents and teachers are supportive of bringing traditional, non-immersion foreign language instruction into the district’s 13 elementary schools, students would prefer additional immersion programs in new languages, according to just-released surveys conducted by Hanover Research Group, a firm the district commissioned this year to evaluate its K-12 world-language programs.

Hanover polled 2,657 high school students; 2,780 parents, mostly of elementary school students; 166 high school teachers and administrators and 371 elementary and middle school teachers and administrators. Each group received a survey tailored to relevant experiences and interests, though many surveys had overlapping questions.

The results indicate broad support for the district’s two immersion programs: Spanish, which has long been offered at Escondido Elementary School, and Mandarin, which began at Ohlone Elementary School in 2008. Ninety-two percent of immersion students and 93 percent of immersion parents said they were glad they (or their children, respectively) participated in an immersion program.

“By starting at an early age, it was easy to adapt,” one student wrote.

Please read more here.

Palo Alto mom creates Mandarin business for immersion kids

July 17, 2015

Entrepreneurial mom pairs Mandarin tutors with immersion students

Palo Altan finds business opportunity in daughters’ educational needs

Layla Al-Khafaji, 6, listens to PandaTree Mandarin tutor Hannuo Wu lead a game during a lesson via Skype at her Palo Alto home on July 14. Photo by Veronica Weber.

• Read Survey: Differing visions for world-language programs

• Read Palo Alto students, teachers give mixed opinions on foreign-language education

Kristina Klausen was looking for a way that her two daughters could get extra practice conversing in Mandarin outside of Ohlone Elementary School’s Mandarin immersion program, in which they were enrolled in. Klausen herself doesn’t speak any Mandarin, and though her children’s father is of Chinese heritage, he doesn’t speak much either.

So naturally, she turned to the Internet. She found a woman in Beijing willing to tutor her children via Skype. The woman had tutoring experience and was interested in moving to the United States, but other than that the arrangement was “completely random,” Klausen said.

Please read more here.

Chinese American International School in SF expands

July 10, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 9.04.41 PMChinese American International School To Debut New Middle School At Turk & Gough

Did you know that the nation’s first Mandarin immersion school is located in Hayes Valley? Meet the Chinese American International School (CAIS), a private school for pre-K through 8th grades where classes are taught in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

CAIS opened on Laguna Street in 1981, a time when language-immersion schooling was unorthodox even for the most hard-charging Bay Area parents. When CAIS moved to its current space at 150 Oak St. in 1997, administrators worried they would never enroll enough students to fill the six-story building. Ten years and thousands of applications later, CAIS has had no choice but to expand—first to 52 Waller St., and now to 888 Turk St.

Please read more here.

Chingshin Elementary and Middle school: An English-immersion program in Taiwan

July 6, 2015
A sign in the English immersion portion of the school.

A sign in the English immersion portion of the school.

By Elizabeth Weise

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Private schools are a rarity in Taiwan, and the number of schools that offer both English and Mandarin immersion in this island nation can be counted on one hand. I had the pleasure of touring one of the most academically rigorous of them this spring as a guest of its chair, Yvette Chiang.

Chingshin Elementary and Middle School (靜心中小學)has a long and august history. The elementary school was founded in 1956 by General Chiang Wei-Kuo. He was the adopted son of General Chiang Kai-shek, one of the founders of Taiwan. In 1968 he expanded the school to middle school, which in Taiwan goes through ninth grade. His wife, Shi Ching Yi, founded the school’s Kindergarten first in 1951. After her death he expanded the school still further.

The school opened just two years after the Kuomintang moved over two million people from mainland China to Taiwan. General Chiang wanted it to “ease the financial burden of military and public service families with young children” as well as to create a school that was “at the forefront of education,” according to the website.

The bus and city practice room.

The bus and city practice room.

Fast forward 64 years and the school has become a remarkable educational institution that offers a deep and thorough-going bilingual program. While there are multiple international schools in Taiwan that offer an English (or French or German or Japanese) education, and most of those teach Chinese, very few actually do immersion in both languages the way we understand it in the United States.

Chingshin is a Kindergarten through middle school program. The Kindergarten has 410 students, the elementary school 1,512 and the middle school 798, for a total of slightly more than 2,700 students. The school has 220 full time staff, 28 of whom are foreign teachers who instruct in English as well as 19 local teachers who teach in English.

A classroom.

A classroom.

The school itself is an attractive group of connected multi-story buildings that to the U.S. eye look like an office complex. However this is the normal configuration for schools in large cities in Asia, where land is expensive. The campus has undergone major renovations in the past decades. The school has torn down and rebuilt two-thirds of its campus, replacing older buildings with new ones in addition to a down-to-the-studs renovation of its front building.

roof top garden

School is also different in Taiwan in that class sizes are much larger than we are used to. At Chingshin the average is 42 students per class, with three teachers in each classroom.

Students also spend a lot more time in school that do students in the United States. School runs daily from 7:30 to 4:10 for elementary school students and from 7:30 to 5:50 for middle school students. In ninth grade, when students are studying for the all-important high school entrance examination, classes and study sessions extend to 9:00 each night.

Chingshin is exploring opening a high school program in the next two years, which will allow students to continue their bilingual education throughout their entire school career.

For me, the highlight of my tour was learning about the school’s bilingual track, which half of the students are enrolled in.

“We need to take our Taiwanese culture and mix it with international culture to create something new and innovative,” was how Chiang put it as she toured me through the beautiful building and immaculate classrooms and soaring gymnasiums and music rooms. I especially loved a floor devoted to mock-ups of local buses, cross walks and other city elements, used to teach the youngest students how to safely maneuver through their city of 2.6 million.

For the 1,300 or so student in the immersion program, life in Kindergarten begins in English—they spend 100% of their day being taught in the language, although the vast majority speak Mandarin or Taiwanese at home. This is similar to several programs in the States which begin with 100% Mandarin and slowly add English.

At Chingshin, in first and second grades students switch to 60% of the day in English, 40% in Mandarin. By third grade, classes are 50% in English and 50% in Mandarin.

In grade school, students study math, English, social studies, science, Art, PE and health. They take math in both English and Chinese, both to cement the concepts and to ensure that they have the vocabulary in both languages.

The English textbook series is one many public school families in the U.S. will recognize, it’s the Treasures series by McGraw Hill. The school is in the midst of making changes to its math curriculum, which will be incorporated this fall. It will switch from the Singapore math program and instead translate the Taiwanese national math textbooks into English. “We are doing this because Singapore teaches math very differently, and we find it’ll be a better fit to translate the Taiwan text books instead,” said Su Wei Wang, the head of the English department.

Tests for their English subjects are all taken in English. This is in part to ensure that the students have mastered the vocabulary as well as the material, but also because many families hope that their children will go on to study in an English-speaking country, so being able to pass tests in English is a highly useful skill.

The tuition for a year at the school is about $4,000 U.S., on par with most private schools in the capital. However the English immersion strand is almost double that, $8,000 U.S.. That’s to pay for the extra teachers, training and materials needed in the immersion strand.

The school overall is extremely difficult to get into. There are 51 slots open each year for incoming Kindergarteners. For the 2015-2016 school year, 468 families applied. The lucky families who get a slot are chosen by lottery.

Of course many of our Mandarin immersion programs in the States also allocate seats for incoming Kindergarteners by lottery. However in Taiwan the lottery takes place in public, at the school, with slips of paper being drawn from a large bin while all the families who want a spot gather to watch. This is to ensure that the entire system is fair and so that no one questions whether any type of favoritism might have taken place. While grueling (especially for staff, I imagine), a system like that would certainly quell grumbling.

The school also boasts a very strong music program, with several orchestras and classes available to all students. There’s also an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a large library and outdoor play space.

All told, Chingshin is a beautiful, robust school. I had the chance to look at some of the students’ written work in English and it’s very impressive, quite on par with what you’d find at a similar grade level in the United States. And that while the students are doing all the same work required to do well on Taiwan’s notoriously competitive and demanding national exams. It’s a fine program and one that several Mandarin immersion programs in the United States have toured as a model.

Parents in Los Angeles launch fund-raising campaign to help Mandarin immersion program

July 4, 2015

From their site:

The Broadway Mandarin Immersion program is a thriving LAUSD public school program. Because of its success, this program needs more room to grow. Rather than finding a way to support the thriving program by providing it with necessary space, on May 26, 2015 Superintendent Cortines made the unilateral decision to halt construction on a new school and deal with space issues by mandating that our number of incoming kindergarten classes be cut from 4 to 2 beginning in 2016.

This is a crippling blow to the program because it threatens the long-term viability of the Mandarin Immersion program. It is difficult to fill attrition spots after 1st grade because incoming students have to have grade-level Mandarin proficiency. With normal attrition rates, starting with only 2 kinder classes will mean we will end up with only 1 small group of students matriculating to middle school.

More at:

New program for high school students in San Francisco to take college Mandarin classes

July 2, 2015

Here’s an example of a program that can work for Mandarin immersion students who finish the program in middle school but then face the prospect of no appropriate-level Mandarin classes for them at the high school level. This one was created with the help of Yalan King at The Mandarin Institute in San Francisco.


Mandarin Institute CCSF Concurrent Enrollment Opportunity 9th 10th graders FALL 2015

Mandarin Institute CCSF High School Concurrent Enrollment Process Fall 2015


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