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A Catholic school closed. Then it reopened as Mandarin immersion. Now it’s expanding

March 11, 2022

I know of three Catholic schools that have faced closure, added Mandarin immersion and now are flourishing. They are All Souls in Los Angeles (see below), Maryknoll in Honolulu and St. Michael’s Catholic Academy in Queens, New York. Am I missing any?

All Souls World Language School in Alhambra broke ground on a new campus expansion project to support the growing school’s dual language and community programs. 

Made possible by grants from Shea Family Charities in collaboration with other benefactors, the buildings will house new classrooms dedicated to STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math), a performing arts center, and a “Collaborative Learning Commons” for students. 

The Sept. 23 ceremony was attended by All Souls students, Catholic schools superintendent Paul Escala, Shea Family Charities representatives, and Alhambra Mayor Katherine Lee. 

Please read more here.

I wish I were learning Chinese now, instead of back in the Dark Ages…

March 5, 2022

My kids are prone to say things like, “Back in the 1700s, when you were in school…” and there are days when I look at the fantastic options available to learn Chinese today and it does indeed feel like I was in college hundreds of years ago.

My day job is keeping me far too busy to take Chinese back up again, but if it weren’t, I’d be reading books like the ones put out by our friends at Imagin8 Press.

They’ve got a nice new one called Easy to Read Chinese Short Stories composed of the Best Short Stories and Poems from the 2021 MSL Master Chinese Writing Contest, a Mandarin school in Hong Kong. It’s a collection of 17 very short stories and poems written in simplified Chinese using a total of just 320 different Chinese characters and also available as a free audiobook.

Early in 2021, Chinese learners worldwide were invited to participate in the first Chinese Writing Contest organized by MSL Master. Entries were limited to using 320 unique Chinese characters.  Out of 82 submissions, 17 of them were ranked the highest in a public vote on Twitter. These top-ranked works are included in this book. There are stories, poems, and even a short play.

At a time when the world seems far more fraught than it has been and when connections between people are all the more important, I love the statement they’ve got on their website:

We are dedicated to promoting a peaceful world by bridging the divide between different cultures. Our sole focus is on publishing high quality, enjoyable books for English speaking people who want to read and understand Chinese.

You can see their full list here. As a big reader, I really do believe that reading in Chinese helps language acquisition by leaps and bounds. Having books like this (which didn’t exist when I, or my kids, were first learning Chinese) really makes a difference.

This Delaware school’s Mandarin immersion is so popular they’re adding four classrooms to the building

February 26, 2022
Two-story addition to Downes Elementary to accommodate four more classrooms for its growing Mandarin Immersion program.

From The Newark Post

By Matt Hooke mhooke@chespub.comJan 19, 2022

Plans for a two-story addition to Downes Elementary School in Newark, Deleware, which will add four classrooms to accommodate the growing Chinese immersion program, moved a bit closer to fruition last week when the Christina School Board approved construction documents for the project.

Due to inflation and supply chain issues increasing construction costs across the country, the project is estimated to cost $577,022 more than the initial $2.2 million estimate, Christina officials acknowledged last week. The base bid, which does not include additional HVAC, flooring or a repaving of the play area, is $143,364 over budget, according to information provided to the school board by the architecture firm.

George Wicks, supervisor of facilities and planning, said up to $100,000 left over from the renovations to the Christiana High School agricultural science classrooms can be used to help fund the Downes addition. The cost estimate also targets the median bid, so there will likely be contractors who offer to do the project for a cheaper cost, according to Wicks.

Please read more here.

National Chinese Language Conference early bird registration ends Feb. 28

February 23, 2022

The Asia Society’s National Chinese Language Conference is the premier conference for Chinese immersion educators. While there’s a lot about teaching Chinese in general, it’s the one conference that’s got a significant K-12 immersion track.

Which isn’t to diss the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, or ACTFL, which is the other big language teacher conference. )And yes, if you’ve heard your program talk about ACTFL proficiency levels, this is where they come from.)

But NCLC is all Chinese all the time. You can see some of the workshops here:

It’s not really a conference for parents, but a great one for teachers and principals. Especially if they’re somewhat new to their positions, it can give a sense of what’s out there, what works best and how programs can up their game. I’ve always wanted to send a few school board members, just so they can see what immersion can really do….

In many public school districts, parents fundraise to send a Mandarin immersion staffer or two, who then come back and present the information to their colleges. However because of COVID, NCLC is now virtual, so it would be possible to give more teachers and administrators access. Early bird tickets are $150.

I’ll be moderating a panel on parent issues at the conference, but there’s no pay involved so I feel ok suggesting it.

Here’s a video about the conference:

And here’s one from the 2018 conference

And here’s the former Prime Minister of Australia, because why not?

Do you know a principal who’d like to move to Michigan?

February 18, 2022

Forest Hills Public Schools in Michigan is looking to hire an Elementary School Principal for Meadow Brook Elementary.

Meadow Brook Elementary is a K-4 building that houses both traditional and Mandarin Immersion programs and classrooms in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The application deadline is the end of the month, I believe.

The link to apply to the posting is here:

It might be interesting for parents in other districts to see what the hiring requirements are:

Title: Meadow Brook Elementary School Principal 

Reports To: Superintendent

Job Summary: The role of the elementary school principal is to serve as the “leader of learning” who fosters a safe, caring, and supportive school learning community, ensures a rigorous curricula, and supports evidenced-based instructional practices and effective assessment strategies in a continuous cycle of improvement that result in high levels of learning for all students. Meadow Brook Elementary is a K-4 building that houses both traditional and Mandarin Immersion program classrooms.


Minimum Qualifications –

  • Valid Michigan teaching certificate with elementary endorsement or coursework
  • Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, Instruction, or related field
  • Minimum of 5 years elementary classroom teaching experience

Preferred Qualifications –

  • Valid Michigan administrative certificate
  • Successful experience as a principal, assistant principal, or teacher leader
  • Experience and knowledge in two-way immersion pedagogy and curricula
  • Demonstrated results with raising student achievement for all students including multilingual learners and language immersion students
  • Experience using a State approved teacher evaluation framework

Key Responsibilities:

  • Support implementation of best English-only and language immersion teaching practices in support of student achievement; observe classrooms regularly and provide feedback to teachers
  • Ensure a clear focus on individualized student learning that is guided by relevant and timely data
  • Create a safe learning environment that promotes equity and high learning expectations for all
  • Demonstrate commitment to continuous improvement of instruction
  • Optimize learning for all students by ensuring a guaranteed and viable curriculum
  • Support the leadership of the School Success Team and school improvement process
  • Engage in and sustain regional, state, national and international partnerships support Mandarin Immersion Program
  • Establish a culture of high expectations for academics, language proficiency, and behavior


  • Student and school performance data
  • Effective practices in curriculum, instruction, and assessment for all student populations
  • Curriculum alignment strategies to ensure focus and coherence within and across grade levels
  • Principles and practices of administrative management, including strategic planning, budgeting, and contract management
  • Legal, ethical, and professional best practices
  • Building relationships and communicating effectively, verbally and in writing, with many different stakeholders (e.g., students, families, staff members, and the broader community)
  • Fostering and maintaining equitable and inclusive learning and working environments for students, families, and employees
  • Experience allocating/managing Title I funding to support student learning


  • High expectations for self and others and a belief that all students can learn at high levels
  • Commitment to continuous improvement, using relevant data, and providing/receiving actionable feedback
  • Resilience in the face of challenges and an orientation toward solutions
  • Confidence to lead with humility, authenticity, transparency, and personal responsibility

Physical Requirements and Working Conditions:

  • Talking: Expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word; those activities where detailed or important spoken instructions must be conveyed to other workers accurately, loudly, or quickly.
  • Hearing: Perceiving the nature of sounds at normal speaking levels with or without correction, and having the ability to receive detailed information through oral communication, and making fine discriminations in sound.
  • Repetitive motions: Making substantial movements (motions) of the wrists, hands, and/or fingers.
  • The worker is required to have close visual acuity to perform an activity such as: preparing and analyzing data and figures; transcribing; viewing a computer terminal; extensive reading; visual inspection.
  • The worker is subject to both environmental conditions: Activities may occur inside and outside.
  • The worker should provide consistent and reliable attendance.

The Forest Hills Public School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, or sexual orientation), marital status, disability, genetic information, or any other legally prohibited basis in its employment decisions or the provision of services

Why learning Chinese might get your kid a job

February 16, 2022

The American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages has a report out,  Making Languages Our Business:  Addressing Foreign Language Demand Among U.S. Employers.

It’s especially useful now, when it’s not easy to go there to work or study in China. This might make it seem as if Chinese is not useful, but it is! Note the findings below:

  • 9 out of 10 U.S. employers rely on employees with language skills other than English.
  • 56% say their foreign language demand will increase in the next 5 years.
  • 47% state a need for language skills exclusively for the domestic market.
  • 1 in 3 language-dependent U.S. employers report a language skills gap.
  • 1 in 4 U.S. employers lost business due to a lack of language skills. 

The following paragraphs from the report are most instructive:

Compared to U.S. employers with foreign language needs on the domestic front only, U.S. employers with at least some foreign language needs internationally have more use for all high-demand languages except Spanish. Most notably, this is the case with Chinese (46 percent vs. 20 percent), French (29 percent vs. 14 percent), Japanese (25 percent vs. 8 percent) and German (24 percent vs. 10 percent). Though Spanish has the highest demand overall, there is no significant difference in demand between groups.

Currently, 19 million U.S. working-age adults—about 10 percent of the United States’ overall working-age population—are of limited English proficiency. As a result, foreign language skills on the domestic front are proving essential not just in serving and selling to consumers, but in managing and communicating with employees. A majority of U.S. employers (58 percent) say that their employees use their foreign language skills to communicate both internally with colleagues and externally with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Another 13 percent say they use their foreign language capacity for internal communication, exclusively.

Thanks to Peter B. for bringing it to my attention. He’s a proud father of a Georgia student who is working to graduate high school with the Georgia Seal of Biliteracy and Global Seal of Biliteracy in both Spanish and Mandarin, and enter university with college credits in both languages.

Happy Year of the Tiger

February 9, 2022
A New Year’s decoration from Jose Ortega Elementary in San Francisco, courtesy of Ms. Chang.

One of the great things about having kids in Mandarin immersion is you get to celebrate the Spring Festival with about 2 billion people around the globe.

It’s also when news sites tend to write about their local Mandarin immersion programs because adorable kids + fun costumes + “Wow, they speak Mandarin” is always a good news peg.

So here are three articles, about celebrations in Utah and Casper, Wyoming.


Casper Wyoming (two separate stories, click each word)

Jordan, Utah.

Pasadena, California.

Portland, Oregon