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Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion graduates its second class.

July 6, 2018

A side note: This blog depends to a great extent on the reporting done by local newspapers across the nation, which tell the stories of their communities, schools and issues better than any other source. That’s one reason I always link to the stories rather than posting whole – it’s not only the right thing to do, but also insures they get the ad revenue that supports their work.

After the horrific shooting at The Capital Gazette in Maryland last week, let me take this moment to urge you to subscribe, in print if you can, to your local newspaper. Support the journalists who make tiny salaries finding out what’s happening in your town and making sure that nothing is hidden and things don’t happen behind closed doors.

Even if you don’t read it every day, it’s worth it. Our children are likely the last generation that will grow up with printed newspapers – get them into the news-reading habit now. Don’t let them be like the high school student I recently met who, seeing the stack of newspapers in front of me, said “Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever actually held a printed newspaper before. I just read everything on Instagram.”

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For the Daily Hampshire Gazette

Saturday, June 02, 2018

HADLEY — “I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that you are all extraordinary,” faculty speaker Bruce Rubin said in his address to the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School’s Class of 2018.

Of the 11 graduates, 10 were International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidates, four were National Honor Society members and all will go on to pursue higher education.

The Class of 2018 was the second class to graduate from PVCICS, a K-12 charter school which opened in the fall 2007. Classes are taught in both English and Mandarin. The graduation was held Friday evening in the school’s gymnasium.

Rubin’s speech highlighted the ways the students had pushed the envelope over the course of their education.

“You are not afraid to challenge orthodoxy and authority,” Rubin said to the class. “‘Just because’ is not a response that you are willing to accept.”

Please read more here.


Parents as Partners in Their Children’s Chinese Immersion Education: Making Decisions and Providing Support

July 1, 2018

Hot off the presses! I was honored to get to work with Maquita Alexander, Executive Director of Washington YuYing Public Charter School in Washington D.C. on this Brief.


Asia Society Center for Global Education, China Learnings Initiative

Chinese Early Language & Immersion Network

July 2018


Mandarin immersion programs are growing in popularity, with at least 246 programs in schools in 31 states and the District of Columbia in 2017.

This Brief is written for parents who are considering placing their child(ren) in a Mandarin immersion program, or for those parents whose child(ren) is already attending one.

The goal of this Brief is to provide basic information that will make both the decision process and the actual experience clearer for families, as well as offer tips on what parents can do and what resources they can find to make the most of the opportunity that Mandarin immersion offers.


Please read more here.

Why you should only give your kid Chinese books that are easy for them to read

June 28, 2018

I know this idea is anathema to some parents,who want to know their kids are working hard at Chinese. But really, there is a ton of research showing that the absolute best way to get literate it to read, a lot. It’s called Extensive Reading and it’s not just in Chinese. There’s a whole Foundation that works on the topic in English, for example.

Here’s an article from the folks at Mandarin Companion about it. They do really nice – and fun! – books that work for kids in Mandarin immersion. Worth getting for your kid once they hit 4th of 5th grade.


Reading Pain or Reading Gain? Reading at the Right Level

This is NOT beginner material

“So, what should I read to improve my Chinese?” he asked as I looked disapprovingly at his book. Zach* had come to Shanghai as part of an exchange program to study business and Chinese. With no previous Chinese skills, he studied hard and quickly worked through the basics of the language. After a few months, I invited him over for a nice home cooked meal and to see how he was doing. He excitedly showed me his recently purchased copy of Jack Welch’s autobiography… in Chinese. He opened it to show me his progress; I saw how the margins were covered with pinyin and every other word had underlining with a definition scribbled beside it. He had been at it for a week and was pleased that he had struggled through two pages and “learned” a lot of new characters.

Please read more here.


And here’s another one, from a Chinese teacher

How to Learn Fluent Chinese: Start Reading!

Fluency is the wonderful feeling of Chinese flowing in your mind.

It’s the feeling of not needing to think carefully, one word at a time, but instead having a 语言感 (yǔyángǎn – language feel)

And, believe it or not, the best way to achieve fluency in Chinese is to start reading already!

Getting plenty of authentic Chinese input is the way to develop a sense of when the Chinese language “feels right.” Reading at your level—that is, reading material you can understand and enjoy—is one of the best ways to get that input.

Please read more here.

Ying Hua International School student take first place in Chinese speech contest

June 24, 2018

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One of the things I love about having kids in Mandarin immersion is that for us non-Chinese parents, our lives are deeply enriched by being welcomed into a world that we otherwise never would have been a part of, broadening our gaze in wonderful ways. My daughters did poetry recitation contests all through school, certainly not something I’d ever encountered growing up and yet an important part of Chinese culture. This story about YingHua students Melanie Tan and Malana Young gives a taste of that. Congrats to them!

KINGSTON NJ – YingHua International School (YHIS) elementary students Melanie Tan and Malana Young, both received 1st place for two different events at the 45th annual Association of Chinese Schools (ACS) conference.  The competition drew students of Chinese heritage from all over the northeast of America, from New England area to as far as Maryland and North Carolina.

Ms. Young proudly brought home the 1st place prize for middle age student individual speech contest.  Ms. Young, 14 years old from Skillman, New Jersey was born into an English-speaking family with a diverse background.  Ms. Young started learning Chinese when she was four and joined YHIS, a Chinese-Immersion school, in second grade.  YingHua’s education has helped her learn to speak the language like a native.  To ensure her speech, “The secret of the statue”, was fluent with words pronounced clearly and smoothly, she practiced for weeks working closely with teachers at YingHua.

Please read more here.



Canada’s Prince Edward Island to get Mandarin immersion school

June 19, 2018

I realize my only knowledge of Prince Edward Island comes from reading all the Anne of Green Gables books as a child (not a bad way to know a place, really.) I had no idea that it has had a huge influx of Buddhist monks and nuns. Now they’re opening an immersion school. That will give us five religious Mandarin immersion schools in North America, two Catholic – All Souls in Los Angeles and Maryknoll in Honolulu and two non-denominational – Reid Temple Christian Academy in Maryland and Zeeland Christian School in Michigan.  


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New Chinese-English school planned for P.E.I.

Leader of P.E.I. monks, nuns behind new school launching next fall

The latest venture of the P.E.I. monks’ religious leader is a new, private school in which students will learn in both Mandarin and English, planned to open next fall.

Buddhist monks on P.E.I. have built extensive facilities on the Island, while at the same time an influx of Chinese immigrants to P.E.I. in the last few years means Mandarin is the main immigrant language spoken on P.E.I., as it is in the rest of Canada.

“If you’re interested in being a global citizen, it would be a language that would be very beneficial to you,” said Derek McEwen, the CEO of HOPE International Education Foundation, who will also be the school’s principal. McEwen worked as a teacher and principal for years and was director of English curriculum for P.E.I.’s Department of Education.

Please read more here.

This luck girl speaks Spanish, Armenian and English at home and is learning French in school. And still someone gave her mom grief.

June 16, 2018

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For those of us not lucky enough to speak a language other than English, we must turn to immersion programs to have our children grow up bilingual. When I hear my daughters chattering away in Mandarin, I feel a wave of relief that all those nights arguing and crying at the dining room table over stroke-order homework were worth it.

This is a poignant essay about the silliness in this nation that we don’t encourage and enthuse over those who are naturally, effortlessly (at least on the part of the kids, the parents work hard at it!) bilingual or in this luck girl’s case, trilingual. And she appears to be in French immersion as well.

I hope it was only that the woman who confronted this mom was working from the old, now-disproved notion that speaking a language at home that isn’t the dominate language of the country somehow harms children.

It’s worth noting that the underlying studies that caused generations of teachers, doctors and experts to believe so were based on false premises. They come from work done in the United Kingdom in the early part of the last century.

Researchers tested children coming from homes where children spoke Welsh and Irish at home and English at school. They found that those students had less well-rounded vocabularies, and drew the conclusion that speaking another language at home harmed their language development.

What they were actually studying was poverty, though they didn’t think about it. Welsh families who still spoke Welsh and Irish families that still spoke Irish tended to come from poorer, less developed parts of the country (and we won’t even get into the history of that…) So the children came from poorer homes, worse schools and generally had fewer opportunities.

They didn’t think to do a similar study with English aristocrats who hired French- and German-speaking nannies for their children so they would speak those languages, which were tied to upper class culture and science.

For decades afterwards, social scientists believed that growing up bilingual was harmful. They were wrong. But it appears not everyone had gotten the update.

From the Los Angeles Times


I felt her staring at me on the playground as I called out to my daughter.

She must be someone’s grandmother, I thought. She must be curious, as people often are.

Then she took one step toward me — pink fingernails, dark blond hair — and opened her mouth, e-nun-ci-a-ting each word.

“Speak English,” she commanded. “You’re confusing the poor girl.”

Please read more here.

Batesville, Indiana Mandarin immersion program brings out Procter & Gamble, other companies in support

June 2, 2018



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Batesville students sing, “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes” in Mandarin.



The line was out of the gym doors for the first Mandarin Dual Language Immersion Family and Community Night April 12 at Batesville Primary School.

The event was planned by the parents of students enrolled in the program, now in kindergarten and first grade. Janie Linkel-Owens, a mother of two DLI students, explained, “We want to network and support each other as students, families, schools, companies and community.”

The evening opened with a few announcements. Linkel-Owens encouraged the families to attend an Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis Chinese Language and Culture Fair April 14. She pointed out students will get to practice their new language at a local business soon. Izzy’s at Hillcrest co-owner Adam Israel told her he will offer a menu in Chinese “as soon as the weather turns nice and he can open the patio. He’s planning on doing sushi.”

A parents’ directory was being created that night so they can communicate about homework, resources and other topics their children have in common.

Representatives of four area companies briefly discussed their dealings with China.

Hillenbrand director of communications and public affairs Tory Flynn reported the company has a major presence in China. “As we operate in a globally dynamic market, it’s really important” to have language skills. She supports the BPS program “based on our manufacturing footprint.” After visiting about seven activity stations, Hillenbrand global learning and development manager Ashley Glaub said, “This is fantastic. I think about my daughter’s future and what a wonderful opportunity for her.” Addison will start the program in the fall.

Please read more here.