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A question for readers – What kind of posts do you want to see?

February 28, 2020

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Hello to all of you who follow this blog.

It’s generally directed at parents but I realize that a fair number of teachers and administrators follow it as well.

I have a question for you. Is it useful for me to post information for teacher/administrator workshops? They’re not meant for parents, but as a parent myself I sometimes found that I was passing along information about opportunities to our teachers which they themselves had not heard about.

On the blog, I don’t know how many teachers and administrators are actually reading, so not sure whether it’s helpful.

This comes up because I got information about the workshop below today and was going to post it, then realized it was 1) only useful to teachers who have a significant number of heritage speakers of Chinese in their classes and 2) only to teachers, not parents.

I was going to skip it but then thought I’d ask. Please use the comment space below to tell me. I strive to make this blog topical and useful for the entire Mandarin immersion community, though with a focus on parents and schools.



Sign up for the conference below here.

More information about the conference here.

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National immersion expert speaking in San Francisco March 5th

February 23, 2020

Dr. Tara Fortune is one of the top experts in immersion and will be speaking in San Francisco on March 5th. You need to RSVP by March 4 so they know how many people are coming.


Tara Williams Fortune is an immersion teaching specialist and director of the Immersion Research and Professional Development Program at the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota. She devotes most of her professional time to the preparation and continuing education of language immersion educators throughout the U.S. Her publications include two co-edited volumes on immersion research, Pathways to Multilingualism: Evolving Perspectives on Immersion Education (2008, Multilingual Matters Ltd.) and Immersion Education: Practices, Policies and Possibilities (2011, Multilingual Matters Ltd.), and Struggling Learners & Language Immersion Education (2010, University of Minnesota). Fortune’s current research interests include immersion students’ oral language proficiency development and the struggling immersion learner. She also serves as a member of the editorial board for the new Journal of Immersion and Content-based Language Education (JICB), John Benjamins Publishing.

Idaho administrators visit China to support immersion program

February 15, 2020

From The Jefferson Star

Nov. 27, 2019

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Two Jefferson School District No. 251 administrators took a trip to China in October with the hope to build connections with other schools and improve the district’s Chinese immersion program.

Chad Martin, superintendent, and Kevin Cowley, world language immersion program coordinator, were the only two Idaho delegates on the Chinese Bridge Delegation.

More than 100 administrators, school leaders and decision-makers attended the 10-day program, which is organized and paid for by the College Board and Confucius Institute. Cowley said he and Martin were in a smaller group composed of administrators from Ohio, Texas and Utah. During the program, they visited local schools and met with educators, administrators and students.

Please read more here.

Some Canadian schools see China’s Confucius Institute as a handy teaching tool. Others reject it as propaganda

February 8, 2020


From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Dec. 1, 2019

Edmonton school board welcomes Chinese program while others cut ties over concerns about state involvement

After tying his sneaker shoelace, Laur An-Yochim jumps back to his feet.

Gym is his favourite class, and the fifth-grader does not intend to miss a moment of physical literacy consultant Stacey Hannay’s instructions.

“What is this in Mandarin?” Hannay asks, hopping around the basketball court inside Kildare School in Edmonton.

The students yell the answer, then move along to a game that involves finding hidden trinkets underneath rows of plastic cups, following directions shouted in English and Mandarin.

Kildare is one of 14 schools in the Edmonton Public School Board’s jurisdiction that takes part in programming offered by the Confucius Institute. That includes Mandarin classes but also other subjects taught in Mandarin, ranging from physical education to math.

The Institute is partly funded by China’s Ministry of Education and offers programming at elementary and high schools, as well as colleges and universities across Canada. China provides annual funding to run the programs as well as Chinese instructors who are are paid by China. In Edmonton’s case, they work alongside the school’s regular teachers to deliver language immersion programming.

Please read more here.


Sky Kids Mandarin day camp in San Francisco & Taipei

February 3, 2020

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It’s getting to be that time of year, when parents’ thoughts turn to summer programs.

For those in the San Francisco Bay area, one option is SkyKids, a long-running Mandarin immersion summer day camp that will be based near San Francisco’s  Japantown this year:

Last year SkyKids began a summer program in Taiwan as well, in New Taipei City.

Note that both of these programs are day camps, so you’ve got to have a parent or friend with whom your kids can stay.

Last year in Taipei the campers were mostly from other Asian countries, including many American ex-pats, with families coming from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and of course Taiwan.

So if you can relocate to Taipei for a few weeks this summer, it might be a camp for you.

[Disclaimer: My daughter and two of her classmates from Starr King Elementary grade school in San Francisco, all now in high school, were junior counselors in the Taipei program last year. Many of the junior counselors in San Francisco are Mandarin immersion high school students.]




Sorry for the less colorful blog this year — and a word to the wise to schools

January 29, 2020

A classroom at Shu Ren International School in Berkeley, California. Photo by Elizabeth Weise

Hi All,

As someone who makes her living writing for a newspaper, I am a firm and huge believer in intellectual property and copyright. If you write a piece, or take a photo or draw a picture or create music, it belongs to you and not the world. If I didn’t get paid for the words I write, I wouldn’t have a job.

Unfortunately, in the digital age it’s sometimes a little hard to know if an image has been paid for or is in the common domain.

I found out this week just how expensive getting that wrong can be when I got a letter in the mail from Permission Machine, a company that photographers use to find their copyrighted work online that’s being used without permission.

To my great sadness, a story I’d posted in 2015 about a website contained an image that belonged to a commercial photographer in Los Angeles, an image which the site — and by extension, I — did not have permission to use.

The bill for that one image, five years ago, wiped out every cent of money I’ve ever made from this blog and a quite a bit more besides. An expensive lesson to learn.

So I’ve deleted all the photos from this blog with the exception of a few at the very beginning which I myself took.

My guess is that 99.99% of the photos I’ve used over the past ten years (the blog launched in 2010) are totally fine. I took many myself and the rest were either sent to me by parents with explicit permission to use them, or from newspapers with a link to the full story, so the newspaper got the click (and the ad sales) from the story.

However, I didn’t have the time or the energy to go through a decade’s worth of photos to delete any that might be questionable so I took the somewhat drastic step of deleting all of them just to be sure. I don’t want to be writing any more checks to law firms.

Why this matters to you

I don’t write this just to complain, though I did want to explain why all the pretty pictures have disappeared, and why there might not be as many moving forward.

But it’s also a lesson I hope others can learn from. If you’re a school or a parent group, make sure that you’ve got permission to use the photos you use, especially stock photos or photos you might have found online. For example, I see lots of schools and groups and flyers that use the same stock photos of a group of multi-racial kids in a classroom (there don’t seem to be that many with a lot of Asian kids so they tend to get used over and over.)

You should know that if you haven’t paid for the right to use that photo, you might get hit with the kind of bill I did. Even if it’s just on a brochure or a flyer that you think “no one but parents at our school will ever see.” If it gets posted on your website, it can be easily found by copyright-searching software.

So take your own photos, don’t use stock photos from the web unless you’ve paid for them and stay safe out there!

Take it from me, your friendly neighborhood Mandarin immersion blogger, now sadder but wiser.


Happy Year of the Mouse to everyone!

January 25, 2020


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I hope everyone has a great Spring Festival, with lots of good food, lucky money and family time.