Skip to content

Sky Kids Mandarin language camps: San Francisco & Taipei

May 26, 2020
Some things built by kids at the Sky Kids camp last year.

From SkyKids:

Dear Parents,
Please check our website for the latest information regarding our programs in Taipei,San Francisco, and our recently launched Online Camps. Links to the website are underlined below.

1) Taipei — We will run a smaller subset of camps this summer from June 1 – August 21 @ CIO Maker SchoolYongan CampYoyo KindergartenThe main issue for visiting families is that the travel restrictions for Taiwan have yet to be lifted. So for now, the Taiwan option is only open to those who are already in Taiwan, can obtain a visa for traveling to Taiwan (business, relatives, etc.), and/or have Taiwanese passports. Hopefully restrictions for tourist visas will be lifted soon, but do expect some sort of 14-day arrival quarantine will still be in place regardless.

2) San Francisco (MandarinNon-Mandarin — Currently we are still waiting to see if we can still run the July 27-August 21 campsFor those who have booked or are considering summer options, it would be helpful for us to know if you are interested in having your child attend in-person camps. We know that families have been cooped up inside for some time now and are looking forward to a summer with some social interaction, so we are trying to make it possible if there is enough interest in this option.

3) Online Camps —  We will launch Mandarin Maker (Grade K, 1-2, and 3-6) weekly mini-camps from June 8-July 3 (PST time). With the exception of Grade K (who will use commonly available materials to do handicrafts), all other camps in June will include Maker Project Packs sent from our Taiwan camp partner to help make Mandarin Learning more interactive and fun! Attached are examples of the maker projects by age group. 
Please let us know if you have any questions. We hope to see you and your kids either online or in-person this summer! 
Best regards,Your Sky Kids Team

A few Mandarin streaming videos to keep students occupied this summer

May 25, 2020

Several people asked for Jennifer’s suggestions for videos that her kids were watching in Mandarin, which she has kindly sent along. Enjoy.

Journey to the West

The 40-part CCTV series from 1986 of Journey to the West has captivated everyone in the family:

Please click here.

Trouble in the Temple of Heaven

We also love this remarkable Chinese cartoon — with terrific music — from 1961 of Sun Wukong/Trouble in the Temple of Heaven: 

Please click here.

Little Fox

Little kids will also like the Little Fox series of Journey to the West:

Please click here.

Shaolin Temple

The reality show about kids learning kung fu at Shaolin Temple: 

Please click here.

South Carolina Mandarin school up to 740 students

May 20, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-05-20 at 6.32.09 PM

East Point students learn Mandarin Chinese

From the Columbia Star.

Columbia’s East Point Academy merges cultures, inspires minds, and expands horizons for students by teaching them Mandarin Chinese, the world’s most spoken language. In the process, East Point earned an “A” ranking as the state’s second best public charter school, according to Mark Bounds, East Point’s head of school.

Bounds was Capital Rotary Club’s September 4 guest speaker, tracing the school’s growth to 740 students since its 2011 founding. East Point practices language immersion— meaning Mandarin Chinese is used extensively in academic classes school-wide. Mandarin is spoken by over a million people and is the second-fastest growing language globally.

South Carolina has an important China connection. Bounds said the country ranks first among the state’s export markets while Chinese companies employ over 3,500 of our residents.

Please read more here.

Life in the trenches: At home learning for Mandarin immersion students and their parents

May 13, 2020


It’s a wild new world for parents whose children are attending school from home these days, especially for parents whose children are in immersion programs. Here are some notes from the trenches from a mom near Boston whose children attend two Mandarin immersion schools. Their daughter, 2 is at a daycare center, Little Wagon. Their son, 5, is at the Boston Rainbow Bridge preschool.

Neither parent speaks Mandarin, though mom Jennifer says, “we are trying to learn – in spite of our fossilized brains!”

Here’s some of how the days go, from Jennifer:

After schools were closed around March 14, our daughter’s daycare immediately started a 1.5 hour (!!) Zoom session for any of the kids interested in joining.  There are stories, general conversation, and a daily project.  Because our daughter is so young and cannot maintain focus on the screen for so long, and because both us parents have demanding jobs that keep us on Zoom much of the day, we have only been able to participate in about 20-30 minutes of this program a few days a week.  But I give the teachers huge credit for their valiant attempts to maintain connection and to provide solid content and activities to continue the children’s education.

We’ve been making other small efforts with our daughter to maintain the language skills she gained in daycare: for example, we have the fun Food Superman reading pen and books and the excellent LeLe reading pen and books.  I use the pen (my son laughs at my awful pronunciation, so the pen is critically important!) to “read” 3-5 short stories a day.

We are also allowing a fair amount of YouTube time for both kids, which I’ve reconciled myself with because we just need to keep them quiet while we are in our endless work-related meetings! The majority of their screen time is in Chinese and it is the usual fare: Peppa Pig, Qiaohu, that sheep and wolf cartoon, etc. We have also found some fascinating gems that have hooked the kids. A CCTV production from 1986 of Journey to the West is really popular with both kids and another big hit is a reality show about a group of kids training at the Shaolin Temple.

My 5-year-old son’s school — following the news that school is now canceled through the end of June — is just now about to launch regular Zoom sessions led by his teachers. Before this, his main teacher kindly met with him a few times over Zoom to read some stories and catch up. While the schedule is still coming together, my sense is that these will be held several times a week for 30-45 minutes each time and will include stories, show and tell, conversation, short lessons, and even physical exercises.

In an attempt to fill some of the gap, we have been using a teacher via for four 25-minute sessions per week. I really like our teacher and this system, which I’ve only learned about during the quarantine.  Our son loves his teacher and talking with her is a highlight of his day!  She has organized lessons that involve things like counting the number of vegetables at the market,  but my son most likes general conversation with her. And I don’t mind if they go off course because he is speaking Chinese a mile a minute and I am relieved that he has a chance to engage with an interested and engaging teacher.

Through trial-and-error, we’ve found that he is most able to concentrate and most excited for these sessions late in the afternoon – after he has had a  lot of time to run around and play. Get him started too early and he resents it and won’t freely talk with the teacher (who is wonderful and rolls with his grumpiness). PandaTree offers lessons for kids starting at 2, and we could do this with our daughter,  but I am hesitant to add more scheduled activities to our plates right now given the incessant drumbeat of meetings for work (you will want to supervise these lessons). Still, I think we will continue with PandaTree once school is back in session for added Chinese exposure. It is just so convenient.

We’ve also been trying to use this time at home to get my son to practice learning and writing some basic Chinese characters (which our daughter is also picking up by extension).  This has worked best after lunch when has he needs some quiet time.  We’ve been taking this quite slowly and he has been learning/writing one character for three days at a time.  It’s very gratifying for him to recognize characters in books. We’re also using the reading pens/books with him, through which he’s also learning/recognizing characters.

In short, we’re trying …but I cannot wait for school to start again!

Note from Beth — Nice work, Jennifer. And I welcome other parent’s stories of how it’s going with home learning.

kids with book

San Francisco State University adding Chinese bilingual program

May 8, 2020

If you happen to know of a teacher or Mandarin speaker who is interested in getting a bilingual authorization credential in either Mandarin or Cantonese, SFSU has launched a new program.

Screen Shot 2020-05-08 at 3.51.30 PM

EED 711_Chinese language for bilingual teachers

Standalone Chinese Bilingual Authorization Program

Standalone Chinese Bilingual Authorization Program Application Guidelines

How’s your homeschooling going for Mandarin immersion?

May 1, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-05-01 at 10.08.08 AMMillions of parents across the United States find themselves effectively homeschooling their children during the shelter in place orders necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s doubly hard for parents whose native language isn’t English, of course, and much has been written on that.

But for parents with children in Mandarin immersion who don’t themselves speak Mandarin, it’s also a real confounder.

It’s even an issue for parents who do speak Mandarin but who grew up in the United States and don’t actually read and write Chinese, especially as written Mandarin becomes more complex in the higher grades.

I would like to run a series of looks at how this is going for families at home. What is your program doing? How do you keep up your child’s Mandarin? Can you? And how well can immersion work when students are no longer truly immersed?

Feel free to email me at weise at well dot com if you’d like to take part. Hopefully we can learn from one and other, or at least stop feeling so guilty that we’re not doing enough….

You’re for a vaccine-filled future!


Have panda suit, will travel says one teacher at South Carolina Mandarin immersion school

April 27, 2020


From The Lexington Ledger

April 6, 2020

East Point Academy P.E. Teacher surprises students during time of social distancing

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 4.20.50 PM

West Columbia, SC – Wearing a panda onesie, and playing upbeat music from a speaker, East Point Academy P.E.Coach, Elease Anderson, surprises students from a safe distance on their birthdays.

One such student was 10-year old Lilly Wilson, “I was so surprised to see Coach Anderson!…When she started dancing I could not stop laughing! I loved it so much!”.

Lilly’s mom, Katie, was grateful for the visit as she was struggling to make the day special. “Turning 10 is a pretty big deal…COVID-19 took the ability to have a birthday party with friends, but Coach Anderson to the rescue!..she is an amazing person with a heart of gold for these children.”

Kayela Greene was also feeling helpless amidst her daughter’s birthday disappointment.

At 5 years old, it was difficult for Lilo to understand why everything was canceled. “She was very upset…Coach Anderson came to sing to Lilo from the street in front of our house. Lilo was so excited; her visit absolutely made her day” Greene recounted.

Please read more here.