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The Economist says studying Chinese is in decline in the U.K.

September 10, 2020

Learning languages
Why studying Chinese is in decline

Mandarin is out of fashionAugust 29, 2020

The article is behind a paywall, so the link below might not work for most folks. The two most salient points are below. Which makes me curious — have your feelings about Mandarin immersion changed in the past few years? Feel free to post a comment.

Many independent schools followed the fashion: 24% of them offer Mandarin, compared with 4.4% in state schools. But finding a school that offers Mandarin is no longer the priority it was for parents three years ago, says Ralph Lucas, editor in chief of The Good Schools Guide. Part of the reason is that “the perception of China as a place where you would want your child to make a career has taken a severe knock”. Learning Mandarin to a useful level is difficult, and China “doesn’t seem like the big golden opportunity it was before”. Recent events, such as the crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, further “take the gloss off” the idea of investing in a Chinese education.

and this:

Advocates of learning Mandarin say that a more complex geopolitical situation is exactly why children should be practising their tones. But those who have invested the hours (and the cash) don’t always reap the rewards. “The only real advantage of me speaking Chinese was having a much better understanding of how difficult it was for my Chinese colleagues to operate in English,” says Alex Wilson, who worked in public relations in Beijing and Shanghai. Graduates from the School of Oriental and African Studies can expect to be earning £27,000 five years after graduating if they studied Chinese, or £38,000 if they studied economics. Yun Zhen is studying for a Masters in Education at the University of Reading and hopes to be a Mandarin teacher. But “honestly, I don’t see many opportunities,” she says. Now she’s looking for teaching experience in “any subject”.

The difficulty of learning Mandarin will always attract academic kids and pushy parents. Mr John of Hatching Dragons notes that parents increasingly “see bilingual immersion for its cognitive benefits. For them, Chinese is (almost) secondary to the linguistic input”. The idea that Mandarin itself is a hot ticket is fading. Better to train the children in a computer-programming language. “Compared to how much more employable you can make yourself by learning something like Python, which you can learn in a few months,” according to Mr Wilson, “Mandarin seems like an inefficient use of resources.”

Please read more here.

Sky Kids Mandarin program for the fall

August 30, 2020

Full disclosure: My daughter worked as a counselor at the Sky Kids camp in Taiwan last year. 

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First class of seniors graduates from Minnesota’s XinXing Academy program

August 29, 2020

XinXing Academy is a Chinese immersion program in Hopkins, Minnesota. It opened at Eisenhower Elementary School in 2007. XinXing (新星) means New Star in Chinese.

The XinXing Chinese immersion program is part of Eisenhower Elementary School and is K-6.

XinXing students move on to Chinese immersion course offerings for grades 7-12 at Hopkins West Junior High and Hopkins High School.

XinXing is an early total immersion program. All core subject matter is taught in Mandarin Chinese for the full day from Kindergarten through second grade. Students learn to read and write in Mandarin first.

English language arts are introduced for the equivalent of one hour per day beginning in grades 3-4, and there is an even distribution of English and Mandarin by grades 5-6. Special curriculum areas (art, music, physical education) are taught in English, but Chinese language and culture are infused into those courses whenever possible.

XinXing has a partnership with Wuning Road Primary School in Shanghai, China and provides opportunities for educational exchanges between our schools.

Three Hopkins High School students discuss their time in Chinese immersion

  • By Lydia Christianson
  • June 5, 2020
  • The Sun Sailor

The first class of XinXing Academy students will graduate from Hopkins High School on June 4. The 17 students took Chinese immersion since kindergarten. Three students discussed their 13 years studying Chinese in interviews with the Sun Sailor.

At first, study Chinese was intimidating for Claire Ruthenbeck. She remembered being nervous and felt she wouldn’t be able to communicate with her teachers. But, Ruthenbeck got used to it and it became easier over time.

“There were times when learning Chinese was really challenging,” she said.

Please read more here.

Baton Rouge District finally agrees to middle school for Mandarin immersion students

August 21, 2020

From: The Advocate

Dec. 23, 2019

BR FLAIM — short for Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet — started with only French and Spanish. But the popular magnet school added Mandarin Chinese in fall 2013 with an initial class of just 12 kindergartners. Six years later, that class shrank to eight fifth graders.

Theresa Porter, director of magnet programs, said with so few fifth graders it was hard to justify the expense of continuing the program to sixth grade.

“With just eight kids, it was almost impossible to do,” Porter said.

But Chinese enrollment in the lower grades is stronger, including 22 students in third grade, so Porter is optimistic a full-blown middle school program will soon prove financially feasible.

Please read more here.

Savanna, GA Mandarin immersion program launched

August 11, 2020

By Ann Meyer

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