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Slightly off topic: The advantages of identifying as biracial

May 22, 2015
With so many biracial kids in Mandarin immersion programs, I thought this might be of interest.

My own kids, who are Chinese and Irish-German-English, are pretty fluid and calm about the whole thing, which I in part attribute to their having grown up in classrooms where being biracial is almost the norm.

from New York Magazine:

The Psychological Advantages of Strongly Identifying As Biracial


Photo: Dana Hursey/Corbis

As I reported in the most recent issue of New York, a new program at an elite private school in New York aims to combat racism by dividing young children, some as young as 8 years old, into “affinity groups” according to their race. The program has been controversial among parents, many of whom believe it is their job, and not the school’s, to impart racial identity to their kids. This feeling is particularly strong among parents who have multi-racial kids. Their identities, many of them say, don’t fit into any established racial category but instead live on the frontier of race.

These sorts of questions about racial identity are only going to become more prominent given ongoing demographic changes in the United States. Multi-racial births are soaring — to 7 percent of all births in the U.S., according to the last Census — a result of more inter-racial coupling and also a broader cultural acceptance of the tag “multi-racial.” (Only as recently as 2000 did the Census even offer a “multi-racial” category — for hundreds of years, stigma has compelled multi-racial people to choose one or the other of their parents’ racial identities, both on government forms and in society.)

Please read more here.

How to use instructional videos in Chinese: from the Asia Society

May 19, 2015

Asia Society Professional Development and Resources for Chinese Language Teachers
As demand for Chinese language programs skyrockets in the U.S. Schools, Asia Society continues to play a leading role in training and developing Chinese language teachers. On January 15–17, the Asia Society’s China Learning Initiatives held the 5th Annual Teachers Institute in Houston in collaboration with Asia Society Texas Center. More than 100 participants from 21 states were selected to attend the conference, which was themed “Effective Chinese Language Instruction: Step by Step.” Participants visited k–12 Chinese language programs in Houston and attended lectures and workshops. In addition to this annual conference, Asia Society’s year-long Chinese Language Teaching Fellows program selects promising candidates from schools nationwide, provides one-on-one coaching with experts, films real classroom teaching, and makes exemplary instructional videos: TEQ Series available online.

Hudson Way Immersion School on New York’s Upper West Side

May 14, 2015

UWS School Director Says Starting Mandarin Early Gives Kids an Edge

By Emily Frost | May 10, 2015 8:29pm

UPPER WEST SIDE — Elizabeth Willaum, the director of HudsonWay Immersion School, doesn’t speak too much English with the school’s 60 or so students, some of whom are as young as 2 years old.

Instead, she spends a lot of time watching and listening as teachers give instructions in Mandarin. And even though she sees it happen every day, she said she’s always astounded when toddlers and young children, most of whose parents only speak English, respond in Mandarin.

Willaum, 67, joined HudsonWay last year as the director of both its Summit, N.J., and Upper West Side campuses to guide the school in its mission to immerse students in another language. In New Jersey, preschoolers and elementary students learn Spanish and Mandarin and in New York they take Mandarin.

Please read more here.

America’s Lacking Language Skills

May 12, 2015

From the Atlantic

America’s Lacking Language Skills
Budget cuts, low enrollments, and teacher shortages mean the country is falling behind the rest of the world.

Educators from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., this past Thursday to lobby in the interest of world languages. It was Language Advocacy Day, an annual event on Capitol Hill that is aimed at garnering more federal support for language education.

As I sat in sessions and congressional conference rooms, I heard a persuasive urgency in these educators’ voices. Each year as national budget priorities are determined, language education is losing out—cuts have been made to funding for such instruction, including Title VI grants and the Foreign Language Assistance Program. And the number of language enrollments in higher education in the U.S. declined by more than 111,000 spots between 2009 and 2013—the first drop since 1995. Translation? Only 7 percent of college students in America are enrolled in a language course.

Please read more here.

A do-it-yourself exchange program

May 11, 2015

From our friends at the Asia Society’s Chinese Language Initiative


A Road Map for Planning a Successful “DIY” Two-Way School-to-School Partnership Exchange Program: Part II

Timeline, Key Components and Other Tips


Don’t miss Part I of this article, which lays out the step-by-step planning for the two-way school-to-school partnership exchange program from September to December. This article advises on planning from the January to April.

January to February

First Parent-Student Meeting 
As our second semester is beginning, we hold our first meeting with the finalized group of families. This meeting provides an opportunity for all of the parents and students to meet one another. I give them an overall outline of how we will get ready for the trip, review the costs, and outline the timeline for making payments. In addition, we also cover the following topics:

Launch Planning for Hosting Itinerary: With our program, the itinerary is primarily the responsibility of the parents. At this first meeting, I explain the overall process and give them a sample itinerary from a previous year as well as some general ideas about what activities the Chinese side expects. I also note the one or two activities that I will plan myself (ones that require involvement from contacts that I have), and I give them feedback on their ideas paying particular attention to safety issues. This approach allows the families to take ownership of the itinerary. Each year’s itinerary is unique, reflecting the community connections, experiences, and resources that each family can offer. As a note, we build in three structured English classes for the Chinese students on our side, and three Chinese classes for the American students in Mudanjiang. The remaining time is divided between group activities and individual family time.



Please read more here.

Mandarin Companion books now available in print format

May 6, 2015

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I purely love these guys! And now their books are available in print format as well as e-readers.

Can you guess what my girls are going to be reading this summer?


An immersion language fair in Utah

May 4, 2015

Students practice language skills at fair
Dual language immersion brings students to UVU 0 Dual language immersion brings students to UVU 0 Dual language immersion brings students to UVU 0 Dual language immersion brings students to UVU 0 Dual language immersion brings students to UVU 0
Dual language immersion brings students to UVU 0
Sammy Jo Hester, Daily Herald
March 24, 2015. SAMMY JO HESTER, Daily Herald

OREM — College students aren’t really getting a lot younger. It just looked that way this week as nearly 2,000 fourth, fifth- and sixth-graders from across the state came to Utah Valley University’s campus. They were attending a world language farm for dual immersion language students.

Most days, those students attend classes in their schools, taught half a day in English and half a day in the language they choose to learn.

On two days this week, they participated in the fair, the first for those grade levels. Brigham Young University has hosted events for junior high and high school students.

“Dual language immersion has been going on about eight or 10 years now,” said Baldomero Lago, senior director of UVU’s International & Multicultural Studies department. “Some of the students wanted to participate at BYU, but that would make it way too large.”

Because of the age range, two approaches would be needed to provide the activities for all the students.

“I proposed that we do two programs to the state and the state assigned us to be the host institution for the dual language fair,” he said.

The State Board of Education invited UVU to host the fair more than a year ago, he said. Teams for several university departments have been planning and organizing the event since then.

Please read more here.


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