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Savanna, GA Mandarin immersion program launched

August 11, 2020

By Ann Meyer ameyer@savannahnow.com

Sep 14, 2019

In Miss Xuechen Liu’s kindergarten classroom at Haven Elementary in Savannah, the children practice their numbers in Chinese by singing a song.

They introduce themselves to one another with the help of a fuzzy lion puppet. In first grade, they count by twos in Chinese and recite the numbers to 100. They’re also exposed to math lessons using an abacus.

“Chinese is the language of the 21st Century,” said Mark Linsky, program coordinator and specialist for world languages in Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. “Worldwide, if you do the math, Mandarin Chinese is actually the world’s most spoken language,” he said.

Please read more here.

In Taiwan, getting immersed in Amis, not Mandarin

August 4, 2020

Established last September, Luma Association Amis-language immersion preschool in Hualien teaches Aboriginal children traditional skills in their mother tongue in a bid to preserve their culture

  • By Han Cheung / Staff reporter

With most of his village preferring to converse in Mandarin, opportunities are scant for 81-year-old Kacaw to use his mother language of Amis. But things are changing in his household — one day the family was having an animated discussion when his plucky four-year-old granddaughter Nikal bursts into the room: “You should talk in the mother tongue,” she tells them loudly in Amis.

Another time, Nikal’s uncle Yosifu, a well-known artist, overheard her arguing with her grandmother over rights to the television remote — “in our mother tongue,” he tells me excitedly.

“With such visible change, I can see hope now,” Yosifu says. “My dad is the happiest one. Out of his grandchildren, only Nikal can speak any Amis. This is so important. When a language is no longer spoken, the lifeline of an entire culture is cut off.”

Please read more here.

Catholic schools increasingly adding immersion

July 29, 2020

For many years, there were three kinds of immersion schools — public, charter and private. Add parochial to that list.

There are now at least 19 language immersion Catholic schools in the United States, and a network for them has been created at Boston College’s Roche Center for Catholic Education.

The Two-Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools lists 19 programs. The majority are Spanish immersion but there are three Mandarin immersion:

  • All Souls School in Alhambra, California (also has a Spanish strand)
  • St. Michael Catholic Academy, Flushing, NY
  • Maryknoll School, Honolulu, Hawaii

Utah gets exemption to President Trump’s order suspending work visas that would have hurt Mandarin immersion programs.

July 23, 2020

On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a sweeping order that temporarily suspended new work visas and barred tens of thousands of foreign workers from employment in the United States.

The order blocked visas for skilled workers entering the United States under H-1B visas. It will be in place at least until the end of the year.

This type of visa has long been used to hired Mandarin teachers from China to work in Mandarin immersion programs in the United States for two- and three-year stints.

It is an especially large issue in Utah, which uses language teachers from overseas to fill many positions in its extensive, state-wide language immersion program.

Whether the exemption will affect Mandarin teachers outside of Utah whose work visas are suspended isn’t clear.

Utah Superintendent of Education Thanks State’s Congressional Delegation for Help in Getting Dual Immersion Teachers

Press release from the Utah State Board of Education

SALT LAKE CITY – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson thanked Utah’s representatives in the Congress, led by John R. Curtis, with assistance from Rob Bishop, Ben McAdams,
and Chris Stewart and Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, for their help exempting foreign teachers who will teach in Utah dual language immersion (DLI) schools this fall from President Trump’s June 22 proclamation suspending entry of aliens into the United States. The members of the House delegation wrote as a group to the President seeking a national security exemption on the suspension to allow
Utah’s DLI program to continue. Both Utah senators’ offices also pressed for an exemption, which has now been approved.
“We are grateful for the bipartisan help from our Representatives in the House and Senate. These international teachers are necessary to keep Utah’s DLI program, which is one of the leading programs in the nation, running at full capacity this school year,” said Superintendent Sydnee
Dickson.

“I am thrilled that our concerns were heard and that Dual Language Immersion teachers will be allowed to receive visas this year,” Rep. Curtis said. “This is good policy for our students and all Utahns, and I am proud to have been a strong advocate for this program. International DLI teachers
bring valuable diverse experiences and cultures to the classroom and I am glad to see that they will qualify for a national interest exemption from visa restrictions. I will continue to work with the State, the Administration, and my colleagues to ensure these teachers can continue the important work they do in Utah.”
“I’m pleased that the State Department has granted these waivers, which will allow Utah’s school districts to obtain cultural exchange visas so their teachers can continue their work during the next school year,” Senator Romney said. “I’m proud to advocate for Utah’s students and will continue
working to advocate for our school districts to have access to the resources they need.”
Utah schools employ 290 teachers who conduct classroom instruction in French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish for roughly 60,000 public school students. Fifty-six of those teachers come to Utah from abroad and require J-1 or H-1B visas to work in Utah. In April,
President Trump signed a proclamation that suspended entry into the United States “aliens who present a risk to the U.S. labor market following the Coronavirus outbreak.”
Sen. Romney’s office confirmed that U.S. embassies abroad are once again able to issue those visas under a national security exemption to teachers who plan to work in Utah this school year.

More on the order and how it might affect immersion programs

How the order might affect education.

A story about how it’s affecting programs in Utah is here:

School language programs ‘scrambling’ after President Trump suspends teacher work visas

Exemption would have devastated Utah schools

Work to get teacher exempted: Utah delegation urges exemption

In 20 years, California wants 75% of students to be proficient in at least two languages

July 19, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-06-28 at 8.01.47 AMJust over 40% of California’s students speak a language other than English at home.

You can think of that two ways — 41% of the state’s students need to learn English. Or, 59% of the state’s students need to get cracking to learn a second language.

As Gregg Roberts, of the American Councils for International Education, says, “Monolingualism is the illiteracy of the 21st century.”

California is coming around to that thinking. In 2018 the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction launched Global California 2030, with the goal that by 2030, all K–12 students participate in programs leading to proficiency in two or more languages. By 2040, the goal is for three out of four students to be proficient in two or more languages, earning them a State Seal of Biliteracy.

According to the Global California 2030 mission;  “By 2030, we want half of all K–12 students to participate in programs leading to proficiency in two or more languages, either through a class, a program, or an experience. By 2040, we want three out of four students to be proficient in two or more languages, earning them a State Seal of Biliteracy.”

Goals include:

  • By 2030, half of all K–12 students participate in programs leading to proficiency in two or more languages, either through a class, a program, or an experience.
  • The number of students who receive the State Seal of Biliteracy, which is nationally recognized for college admissions and career opportunities, more than triples from 46,952 in 2017 to more than 150,000 in 2030. By 2040, three out of four graduating seniors earn the Seal of Biliteracy. The Seal is earned by demonstrating proficiency in a language in addition to English.
  • The number of dual immersion programs that teach languages besides English quadruples from about 400 in 2017 to 1,600 in 2030.
  • The number of new bilingual teachers authorized in world language classes more than doubles from 2017 to 2030.

The initiative came after state voters’ overwhelming repealed restrictions on bilingual education in California that had been enacted by the notorious  Proposition 227 in 1998. It took 18 years, but in 2016 Proposition 58 passed by 73%.

Prop 227 required students be taught in an English-only environment, where the student was taught English by a teacher who only speaks English. English Language Learners who were in separate classes had to be placed in regular classes and bilingual programs were ended.

Immersion programs were in a way a work-around, because they benefited both English-speaking and non-English-speaking students. They were allowed if schools provided abundant information to parents that their children were not being educated entirely in English. Of course, that’s what the parents wanted.

California’s K-12 system is by far the biggest and most diverse in the nation, with 6.2 million students, 40 percent of whom come to school with knowledge and experience in at least two languages.

“Studies have found that speaking two or more languages has many benefits. It strengthens memory and cognitive processes, improves speakers’ ability in their first language, expands cultural knowledge and understanding, builds self-confidence, and even delays the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia,” state Department of Education officials wrote in the initiative.

Whether the state will achieve its goals, it’s a long way from 1998, when the cry of “English only!” became state law.

My children’s opportunities for work and advanced study have been turbocharged by their ability to speak Mandarin (from California immersion programs) and Spanish (from four years of high school Spanish.) Speaking English is necessary. Speaking one or two languages on top of that is a game-changer.

School long on Austin’s closure list could become Mandarin Immersion magnet

July 14, 2020

Austin’s Joslin Elementary School, is one of 12 schools named as a possible closure in the district’s ongoing school changes plan.

From the Austin Independent School District:

October 21, 2019

Austin ISD’s Joslin Elementary School located in south Austin received a $284,000 School Action Fund Grant from the Texas Education Agency to reimagine the school through a new foreign language experience.  
 
Joslin Elementary will be reimaged into a new, city-wide foreign language academy and a new pilot school will be created, using the brand #PilotJoslin. Over the next several years the school will transition to this new program creating a Joslin Foreign Language Elementary School and will be a one-of-a-kind foreign language hybrid in Texas, and the first campus in south Austin to offer these opportunities. 
 
The grant will be used to create a multi-cultural and foreign language experience, giving students exposure to the Chinese culture and Mandarin Chinese while continuing to take their primary courses in English.   
 
Additionally, staff will create a Chinese dual-language immersion program where students use Mandarin Chinese and English throughout their learning experience. This type of program positions students to continue their language learning through high school and become career-ready and/or college-ready in a second language.
 
For more than two years, Joslin Elementary has been working with the district administration to reinvent the urban school experience. A milestone in this process came this month when the Joslin Campus Advisory Council voted to create this new program on the Joslin Elementary campus. 
  
“This is a “win-win” for current and future Joslin families, and the neighborhoods surrounding Joslin Elementary and throughout the entire city of Austin,” said Joslin’s Principal ChaoLin Chang. 
 
As part of the strategic plan the school will work with partners such the Asian Chamber of Commerce and the Asian Bar Association among others.    
 
“This will be a new school, and a new model with a new principal and our community is extremely happy about this great new opportunity occurring at Joslin with #PilotJoslin iniative, said Joslin Campus Advisory Council member Ryan Turner.
 
Joslin’s new principal, ChaoLin Chang, is fluent in Mandarin and has a proven record in building a successful Mandarin immersion program from the ground up in Houston. 
 
“With Principal Chang’s background and extensive resources, the Joslin community is in an optimal position to bring a Mandarin foreign language program to Joslin Elementary, said  former PTA President Julie Barschow.  “Offering different levels of exposure to the foreign language program will allow Joslin to remain positioned to serve its current student population, as well as draw in new students from all over the Austin metropolitan area.

About the TEA grant
The Texas Education Agency grant made available by a School Action Fund Grant was given to only two campuses in AISD. The other campus was Travis High School.  Grant funds are awarded to school districts to increase the number of students in great schools and are only awarded to school districts that are committed to bold and aggressive action and creating better options for students. Awardees have the potential to be awarded millions of additional dollars through additional TEA grant programs. 

Joslin Elementary School is located at 4500 Menchaca Rd. Austin, TX 78745. View the Joslin website. 

Chatting in Chinese for your kids through USChinaKidsClub

July 7, 2020

This is an interesting program. It sets up chats between kids in the United States (and elsewhere) and China, half in Mandarin and half in English.

What seems useful about it is that there’s a facilitator, to keep the kids talking. We did some “video pen pal” like tries in our grade school and mostly the kids just giggled and didn’t say much. Having specific topics — “Furnishing my ideal bedroom” for example — helps focus them. And the facilitator makes sure things keep happening.

This might be something for parents looking to give their kids practice speaking Chinese over the summer. They’ve got a handy dandy schedule so you can see when there’s overlap between times kids in China are awake and kids in the U.S. Generally there’s an up to six hour window each day when there’s a good overlap.

Here’s an example of how it works.

I would imagine it’s most useful for kids who have had a few years of immersion, so they can speak Chinese. I haven’t actually tested it and would love to hear from parents who’ve used the service.

The cost is $80 for four 45 minute sessions. There’s a $20 trial so you can get a sense of it.

They have a more structured program for schools, but with COVID-19 they’re finding U.S. parents want to set things up over the summer to keep their kids engaged with Chinese.

You can find their website here.