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Where can immersion students work? More might want to look at the State Department

August 1, 2022

According to the website The Hill:

A 2020 Council on Foreign Relations report notes that at the State Department, “language-designated positions overseas are 15 percent vacant, and 24 percent of those staffed are filled by officers who do not meet the minimum language requirement.” The Defense Department has over 30,000 language positions, many of which it cannot fill. This  deficit has greatly hampered the United States in diplomacy, intelligence gathering, war fighting, and nation building.

I read the report, and it makes some interesting points:

The first is the importance of the State Department and American diplomatic efforts overall:

The State Department’s ranks are still among the most talented professional public servants anywhere in the government. When properly empowered and entrusted with significant responsibilities, American diplomats play essential roles in consequential outcomes for the country.

Second is the crucial, but often underappreciated work the State Department does in the realm of climate change. Today’s college students are increasingly focusing on sustainability, environmental and climate change as areas of study, with 39% of students saying it’s the important topic facing the world.

Traditionally, the State Department has played the leading role in negotiating international climate agreements, including the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, the most ambitious climate agreement ever reached.

Finally, there is a big need for Chinese speakers (or there was in 2020):

DOS still has more Portuguese speakers than Arabic and Chinese combined.

DOS still has more Portuguese speakers than Arabic and Chinese combined.

Given these things, the Foreign Service might be someplace high school students getting ready for college might aim for. There’s change afoot, including a newly improved selection system that is the first significant change to the process since 1930. As the State Department said last month:

The Department is moving away from the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) as a pass/fail gateway test and expanding focus on a candidate’s education and experience for a more holistic approach in the selection process.

As high school students get asked “what are you going to do with Chinese in college,” this is perhaps something for them to think about as they put together their class lists and consider the future.

Pasadena graduates its first full Mandarin immersion cohort – They started as Kindergarteners in 2009

July 23, 2022

By DR. BRIAN McDONALD, PUSD Superintendent   JUNE 2, 2022

Pasadena Unified is getting ready to say farewell in multiple languages to the founding class of students who began the Dual Language Immersion Program in kindergarten. The program, started in the 2009-2010 school year has enabled students to master academic subjects in both English and a target language (Spanish, Mandarin, French, or Armenian). It all began with one Mandarin kindergarten class, one small Mandarin first grade class, two Spanish kindergarten classes, and one Spanish first grade class and it now includes programs at over a dozen PUSD preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools.

The first graders graduated last year but this is the first kindergarten class to graduate. One of the parents who helped launch the program over a decade ago called it transformative and says her children will never really know how valuable it has been to learn to read, write, and speak in a target language.

See more here.

Lack of teachers to force Park City, Utah program to close

July 13, 2022

The Park Record

Letter to the Editor: May 1, 2022 From a student in the district

Utah is the leader in Dual Language Immersion (DLI) and secondary language learning programs in the United States. Utah currently offers DLI and secondary language programs in the public school system in six different languages. Park City School District has successfully implemented 3, Spanish and French in (DLI) and Mandarin. Spanish is the top secondary language in the state of Utah, Mandarin second and French is third.

The Mandarin Learning Program in PCSD started in 2002, when David Knell became the first teacher in the state of Utah to start teaching Mandarin at the high school level. He retired in June of 2021. The Mandarin program has transitioned to Dr. Kerong Wu. However, we were recently informed that advanced Chinese classes beyond Chinese 3 would be cancelled for the 2022/2023 school year. This was due to low enrollment numbers, but they are at similar enrollment numbers, if not greater than the 2021/2022 school year by 1 student I believe. And now I was told Dr. Wu has resigned and the school district has not been able to find a replacement. So, on the 20th anniversary of this incredible program, the Mandarin learning program has been cancelled! With the incoming students and existing Mandarin learners that has to be over 70 students impacted.

Please read more here.

North Carolina school offers Mandarin and Arabic immersion

July 2, 2022

From: WFAE | By Ann Doss Helms

Published April 13, 2022 at 5:44 AM EDT

Inside a newly-renovated building in a Pineville shopping center, you’ll hear young children learning in Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish and English.

ILIM School, short for the International Language Immersion Montessori School, offers a new twist on a growing educational option. Language immersion means classes are conducted in the language students are trying to learn.

ILIM students also learn about global cultures. Dina Ahmed, Arabic teacher who came from Dubai, recently told her students about the drummer in many Arabic-speaking countries who awakens people before dawn during Ramadan, when Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset.

Please read more here.

“Save Cantonese” effort underway at Stanford University

June 25, 2022
Cantonese – Guǎngdōng huà

It’s a little off-topic, but interesting that Stanford has dropped Cantonese, spoken by 70 million people in China. It’s also closer to classical Chinese, T’ang dynasty poems that don’t rhyme in Mandarin do rhyme in Cantonese, for example.

Los Angeles Times

April 17, 2022


APRIL 17, 2022 5:30 AM PT

Laura Ng had a dual motive for taking Cantonese classes at Stanford.

As a PhD student in anthropology, she was researching the history of the Inland Empire Chinatowns.

She also wanted to communicate better with her parents, immigrants from China who worked as a seamstress and a cook.

In late 2020, she was stunned to hear that Stanford, citing COVID-related budget problems, was laying off its longtime Cantonese teacher, Sik Lee Dennig.

As efforts began to save Cantonese at Stanford, the language remained under threat worldwide.

Please read more here.

South Carolina Mandarin immersion charter going strong

June 19, 2022

Fox Carolina By Brookley Cromer

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 4:25 PM PDT

GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) – Is your child interested in learning a second language? A Greenville charter school is offering something that’s rare in South Carolina and enrollment is open for next year.

Speaking a second language is second nature for students at East Link Academy, a Chinese-immersion public charter school for elementary and middle school students.

“I feel like if my son learns a language like Mandarin, which is really hard and difficult to learn, he can learn any language after that,” parent Jeanne Boughner said.

Students in K-4 through 8th grade learn Mandarin through body language, visuals, and facial expressions.

Please read more here.

A call for more Asian language immersion teachers to be trained

June 10, 2022

LAist, by Josie Huang, June 6, 2022

Chinese and Vietnamese are, after Spanish, the most commonly spoken non-English languages in California, but they’re rarely taught in public schools because there’s not enough teachers to do the job.

The state issued nearly 1,200 bilingual accreditations in the 2020-2021 school year, but only 63 were for Mandarin Chinese and two for Vietnamese, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

The total number of K-12 teachers accredited in Asian languages added up to 93.

Civil rights leaders on Monday joined with state legislators in calling for a one-time, $5 million state allocation to invest in a teacher training consortium for Asian languages, in hopes of moving some of the credentialing costs off the shoulders of teachers.

Please read more here.