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The Shen Yun dance troupe and Falun Gong: What you need to know if your program’s teachers come from China

October 12, 2019

Screen Shot 2018-09-05 at 11.35.39 AMI have no opinions on Falun Gong myself (so please don’t email about it!). I’m reposting this because every year many Mandarin immersion programs get sent fancy, full-color brochures about the Shen Yun Performing Arts troupe if it’s presenting anywhere near them.

The group performs Chinese classical dance, though the final piece is often somewhat political and focuses on the persecution of Falun Gong members in China (which can make it a little scary for small children.)

I’ve heard people object to Shen Yun’s statement that it is “reviving” Classical Chinese culture, as if it were dead everywhere but in their troupe. But that’s not the issue I wanted to address here.

What I do want to pass along is something that many parents don’t realize —  there’s a  connection between Falun Gong (a spiritual practice group that’s banned in China) and Shen Yun. That’s important if your program has  teachers from China in your schools, as you might  be mystified about how those teachers could react to being invited to the performances.

I know one mom who bought two tickets to a performance and gave it to her child’s teacher as a present, but was confused at the teacher’s immediate return of the ticket and mumbled explanation that it wasn’t appropriate. The mom was worried she’d somehow offended the teacher because they’re pricey. But it turned out — after some behind the scenes discussions — that the teacher, who was on a two-year contract through Hanban in China, was worried she’d get in trouble if she attended such a performance.

So a little bit of background might help. I have no idea if it actually has been an issue for teachers from China, as I’ve only heard the one story, but in the interest of passing along information that might be useful, I’ve collected links to various newspaper and magainze stories. I know I myself was initially mystified about what was going on when the issue came up at our school.

Note that if you google “Shun Yun” you’ll find dozens of extremely supportive article from The Epoch Times. Here, too, it’s worth noting that the newspaper is connected with Falun Gong.

Here are some articles that might be useful to those trying to understand the ins and outs of all this:


Stepping Into the Uncanny, Unsettling World of Shen Yun
Does the ubiquitous dance troupe really present five thousand years of civilization reborn?

Please read more here.

How Shen Fun has become a meme.

Just How Big Is Shen Yun’s Marketing Budget?

You’ve seen the mailers. And billboards. And TV ads. We asked experts for insight into the Chinese dance troupe’s blitz

The traditional Chinese dance troupe China doesn’t want you to see

Shen Yun seems like a kitsch dance troupe. But Beijing sees it as the propaganda wing of the Falun Gong movement, and a threat to their rule – and hounds the dancers from city to city, trying to sabotage their shows. By

Falun Gong still worries China, despite efforts to crush the sect

In China the movement sputters on. Abroad its profile grows



Deleware Mandarin immersion program graduates to middle school

October 7, 2019

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From: The Newark Post

When the first group of students began the Chinese immersion program at Downes Elementary School in 2013, it was a leap of faith for the students, their parents and the teachers. With the first graduating class moving on to Shue-Medill Middle School in the fall as sixth-graders, that leap of faith has developed into a multi-grade program involving half the school’s students.


“I thought it was a really great idea, but I had no background of seeing it,” said Ariel Hardy, a second-grade teacher who has been involved since the program started. “They’ve done really well academically. I think that is one of the best things, besides learning another language, that you’re using your entire brain and creating all these neural pathways, which helps you in all different areas of academics.”

Please read more here.

What you do when people start attacking your Mandarin immersion program

October 3, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 12.51.07 PMThe Mandarin Dual Language program in the Chapel Hill- Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina has gotten a great deal of push-back from other parents and some in the school district. Opponents have argued that it’s elitist and only for some students.

The parents put together what I think is an excellent website outlining the program, what it does, how it works and debunking some of the claims.

Their site is worth checking out, especially if you’re in a district where Mandarin immersion is under fire.

You can see the site here.

As of March, the fight was still going on:

The movement to recall three CHCCS school board members has ended. Here’s why:

After multiple developments in the push for the recall of three Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools school board members, including the resignation of chairperson Margaret Samuels and the creation of a counter-movement called Stop the Recall, the recall movement has come to an end.

CHCCS is one of two school districts in North Carolina out of 115 that allows school board members to be removed from their position. This can happen if someone who’s registered in the district obtains signatures from at least 10 percent of the district’s registered voters in a petition and a majority in a recall election.

The recall effort arose after community members accused three board members, James Barrett, Pat Heinrich and Margaret Samuels, of unethical conduct surrounding their vote to expand Glenwood Elementary School’s Mandarin dual language magnet program.

See more here.

Immersion students write get well cards for Chinese tourists injured in Utah bus crash

September 26, 2019

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From Fox News 13

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — After a tour bus crash near Bryce Canyon on Friday left four people dead and dozens injured, Chinese immersion students from around the state are helping out in the healing process.

Anywhere from 500 to 600 students at different schools around Utah are making cards in their classrooms to send to the bus crash victims in the hospital — all of whom are from China.

All of the cards are written in Chinese.

“The victims are far from home. There’s a little bit of a language barrier and so we are just hoping with the large program we have in Utah that there’s something we could do to cheer them up,” said Jayne Young, the Chinese Coordinator with the state’s Chinese Dual Immersion Team.

Del Mar Union District, in southern California, pondering Mandarin immersion

September 23, 2019

From The Del Mar Times

Del Mar Schools to consider foreign language program

The Del Mar Union School District is exploring adding foreign language to its curriculum.

A parent survey is expected to go out in March to determine if there is an interest in a language program, what that language of preference would be and where the priority for language lands among current STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) content areas.


“It’s more than time for Del Mar schools to offer second language instruction so I’m very enthusiastic about this,” said DMUSD President Erica Halpern at the board’s Feb. 27 meeting. “I’m happy to see that we’re working toward what kind of program would be the right one for our kids and our district.”


Shelley Petersen, assistant superintendent of instruction, said the goal would be to select a pilot site that would begin offering a language program in the 2019-20 school year. A steering committee would also be formed to develop ideas on the direction of a district-wide language program.


Spanish used to be a part of the district’s Extended Studies Curriculum (ESC) but the board removed it in 2009. ESC was re-branded to STEAM + in 2015, including the specialty programs that are partially funded by donations to the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation. Currently, DMUSD has fee-based Spanish and Mandarin programs that are offered after school.

Please read more here.

What Mandarin immersion looks like on the ground: Ms. Li’s 2nd grade class in North Carolina

September 19, 2019

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This is one of a series of videos that the Asia Society’s Center for Global Education Chinese Learning Initiatives does. You can read about the series here.

Here’s the video for teachers “intended to serve as a window into the classroom.”

This is Ms. Li’s second grade class in Waxhaw, North Carolina. The lesson theme is “What do you want to be in the future?”

When you look at this, remember that an English-only classroom would work exactly the same — the teacher would have specific vocabulary and concepts that the teacher wants to teach the students and then the teachers would work on those concepts for them.

And don’t work if you don’t speak Mandarin, there are some subtitles.

She’s running through first what she does (she’s a teacher) and then she shows them different photos of different people and asks them what they do. For example, the school nurse.

You can also ask your kids to tell you what’s going on. This is a second grade class, so most should be able to.

Here’s the full story with an embedded video.




Southern California’s Ontario-Montclair district adding Mandarin immersion this year

September 13, 2019
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Mandarin immersion instructor Mengdian (Mandy) Zheng points out a welcome to Chinese class wallhanging she designed for her Montera Elementary kindergarten classroom in Montclair, Calif. on Thursday March 14, 2019. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Ontario-Montclair School District says 你好 to Mandarin immersion classes

Classes will be offered for kindergarteners at Montera Elementary School next year

With China now one of the world’s biggest economies, the Ontario-Montclair School District is making moves to prepare its students for a future that anticipates the country’s continued influence across the globe.

“There’s probably going to be three languages that are going to be predominant in the next 20 years, which will be Spanish, English and Mandarin. That’s what it looks like,” said Veronica Bucheli, a director with the district. “How do we give our kids an edge? One way of doing that is to teach them another language.”

This isn’t the district’s first dual-language immersion program: Spanish has been offered at the district’s Central Language Academy since 2007. After Spanish and Mandarin, Arabic might be next; it’s already being taught in an after-school club in one of the district’s middle schools.

“If I had a child that was going into kinder, I would put them into this class,” Montera elementary Principal Rudy Sandoval said. “You talk about an advantage going into the future, that’s an advantage.”

Please read more here.