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National Chinese Language Conference registration opens

January 18, 2019

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Note: I know several school districts where families raise money to send a few teachers to this conference every year, as it’s really the home for cutting-edge Mandarin immersion information.


The 12th annual NCLC will be held from May 9–11 in San Diego, California at the
Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina

The National Chinese Language Conference (NCLC) is the largest annual convening in the United States and North America that brings together leaders and practitioners in the field of Chinese language and culture education. It is dedicated to enhancing the capacity for teaching and learning of Chinese language culture by sharing cutting–edge practices and examples with educators and policymakers. Over the past 11 years, the conference has attracted over 13,300 international, national, state, and local educational leaders, school principals and teachers, and higher education faculty. Register Now »

Join us and celebrate the growth of the Chinese language field!
At NCLC 2019, you could:

Choose from more than 110 sessions and workshops, including new interactive formats such as mini-workshops, swap shop, and e-poster presentations
Hear from visionary speakers and thought leaders in the field
Network with educators in the field
Browse diverse resources in the exhibit hall
Enjoy performances highlighting Chinese culture
Sign up for preconference school visits to see local K-12 Chinese language programs in action (additional fee applies, more details to be released later)
Participate in preconference workshops, half-day/full-day (additional fee applies, more details to be released later)
Explore the rich cultural offerings of San Diego
Register now at the early-bird rate by March 7 and save.

Info here:


Lego has two great Chinese New Year sets — but they’re only sold in Asia

January 14, 2019

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Chinese New Year is Feb. 5, and Lego is ready. The Danish company is offering two Chinese New Year-themed sets. But parents in the United States won’t have seen them in stores because they’re sadly only available in the Asia Pacific region.

If you happen to have friends heading to China et al it could make a nice gift. And it might be possible to buy them on TMall and have them delivered here, though I can’t tell if that would work.

There’s also a dragon dance troupe, with an articulated dragon!

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With the other set you can create a Chinese New Year meal, complete with a whole cooked fish, dumplings and a lazy Susan.

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The dragon dance set is 599RMB (around $85) and the New Year’s Eve feast set is 699RMB (about $100).



Military spending law unexpectedly affecting Mandarin immersion programs

January 12, 2019

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A military spending bill signed by President Donald Trump in August limits funding from the U.S. Department of Defense for Chinese language programs at schools that also host Confucius Institutes, which are Chinese government-funded nonprofits that promote Chinese language and culture.

The provision of the National Defense Authorization Act requires schools to separate  Confucius Classroom teachers, who are funded by China’s Confucius Institute, from Department of Defense critical language grant-funded programs (at least I think it does, it’s a little unclear.)

Although the actual language in the bill only refers to higher education, it appears it is also being applied to Mandarin immersion K – 12 programs that have funding through the Department of Defense, probably through the various critical language programs.

Most news reports have only been about university programs, so the move took some schools by surprise.

Schools were notified last week that the separation must be complete and certified by Tuesday, January 15th. That’s causing many Mandarin immersion programs to have to remove Confucius Classroom teachers.

Here’s a good story from Inside Higher Ed explaining what’s happening.

The Bill

Here’s how a columnist for the Washington Post explained it on August 12, 2018 column:

Tucked inside the $716 billion John McCain 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that President Trump signed Monday is a provision barring any U.S. university from using Pentagon resources for any program involving Confucius Institutes, Chinese government-funded language schools embedded inside U.S. colleges. In the future, any universities that have Pentagon-funded and Chinese government-funded Chinese language programs will have to secure a Pentagon waiver if they want to keep both.


Here’s the actual bill. The section that is about the Confucius Institute is 1065.

The language in the bill


(a) PROHIBITION—None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2019 under this Act may be obligated or expended for Chinese language instruction provided by a Confucius Institute.

(b) LIMITATION—None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2019 under this Act may be obligated or expended to support a Chinese language program at an institution of higher education that hosts a Confucius Institute.

(c) WAIVER—The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness may waive the limitation in subsection (b) with respect to a Chinese language program at a specific institution of higher education if the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness—

(1) certifies to the congressional defense committees that—

(A) Confucius Institute employees and instructors will have no affiliation with the pro- gram;

(B) Confucius Institute employees and instructors will provide no instruction or support to the program;

(C) Confucius Institute employees and instructors will have no authority or influence with regard to the curriculum and activities of the program; and

(D) the institution has made publicly avail- able all memoranda of understanding, con- tracts, and other agreements between the institution and the Confucius Institute, or between the institution and any agency of or organization affiliated with the government of the People’s Republic of China; or

(2) certifies to the congressional defense committees that—

(A) the requirements described in subparagraphs (A) through (C) of paragraph (1) have been met; and

(B) the waiver of the limitation in subsection (b) is necessary for national security, and there is no reasonable alternative to issuing the waiver.


(1) CHINESE LANGUAGE PROGRAM—The term ‘Chinese language program’’ means any Department of Defense program designed to provide or support Chinese language instruction, including the National Security Education Program, the Language Flagship program, Project Global Officer, and the Language Training Centers program.

(2) CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE—The term ‘‘Confucius Institute’’ means a Confucius Institute that is operated by the Office of Chinese Languages Council International, also known as Hanban, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China.

(3) INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION—The term ‘‘institution of higher education’’ has the meaning given the term in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.).

Letter to Portland Mandarin immersion families about the change

Here’s a letter that went out on January 10, 2019 to families at Woodstock Elementary school in Portland, Oregon. Woodstock is the second-oldest public Mandarin immersion program in the nation.


Dear PPS Chinese Dual Language Immersion Families,

As many of you may know, PPS has been fortunate to receive significant grant funding from both the US government and the Chinese government for over twelve years to support opportunities for K-12 students to learn Chinese language and culture. These significant financial supports enabled PPS to expand opportunities from several hundred students to thousands of students in diverse settings. Our intent is to continue to use these resources to support and expand these opportunities.

However, due to federal funding legislation passed by the US Senate this past year, we are required to separate these funding sources and programs. What this means at the school level is that our Confucius Classroom (CC) teachers will not be able to work in our Chinese DLI classrooms. We were notified this week that this separation must be complete and certified by Tuesday, January 15th. Unfortunately, the way the law is written, we have no choice in this matter if we are to retain these two grants.

Those CC teachers currently working in Chinese DLI program classrooms will be shifted to other classrooms or schools to establish this separation. We are working with our principals on how to make this happen given the short timeline.  Principals will share those details with students and families.

We will miss having these wonderful adults as part of our DLI programs.   However, moving PPS into compliance with this new law allows PPS and the Portland community to maintain both resources for supporting the teaching and learning of Chinese language and culture. All DLI programs and courses will continue, and every effort will be made to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Thanks for your patience and understanding as we work to do our best to serve students while complying with this new legislation.


Michael Bacon

Director of Department of Dual Language

Portland Public Schools


Politics affecting Confucius Institutes, which provide support for some Mandarin immersion programs

January 9, 2019

Several articles on the issue below:


The furor over the Confucius Institutes is distracting from real Chinese threats


University Confucius Institute closed months before FBI monitoring

Closing a Confucius Institute, at Congressmen’s Request


NC State is closing its Chinese-backed Confucius Institute. Is politics behind decision?

Read more here:


Confucius Institute closed at US university amid concerns about Chinese influence on campuses

Senator Marco Rubio has been among US lawmakers warning that the Confucius Institute was an effort by China to expand its political influence abroad



Florida university latest to cut ties with China’s Confucius Institute

Making immersion work in Middle and High School

January 6, 2019

From our friends at Asia Society’s Chinese Early Language & Immersion Network (CELIN)

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Making Middle and High School Mandarin Immersion Work

By Michael Bacon, Director, Department of Dual Language, Portland Public Schools

& Eric Schneider, Associate Superintendent, Minnetonka Public Schools


Effectively engaging adolescents and nurturing their academic, cognitive, and social development is a challenge for any educational program. Doing so in a bilingual program can even be more challenging.

With over 200 Mandarin immersion programs emerging in elementary schools over the past decade in a variety of contexts (Weise, 2018; also see CELIN Online Directory of Student Programs, learning-initiatives/find-or-document- program), a virtual tidal wave of Mandarin immersion students are moving into the secondary school grades (6-12).

During this transitional time, many Chinese immersion programs are struggling to retain students, keep them focused on school, and continue to develop a high level of language proficiency, cultural knowledge, and ability to grapple with more abstract and rigorous content in both languages (Chinese and English).


Please read more here.

Newly updated for 2019 — we’re up to 277 Mandarin immersion programs in the United States

January 2, 2019



Chinese class work posted on a hallway bulletin board in a Mandarin immersion school in California.

I spent New Year’s Day updating my list of Mandarin immersion programs after following up on the information and leads readers, parents, teachers and administrators so kindly send me about what’s happening in Mandarin immersion.  Here’s the newly updated list. We’re up to 277 U.S. programs, including a few that will launch this coming fall.

To see the full list, click on the link below. It will open a spreadsheet that contains all the schools I have information about. And you can always go to the page of this blog that the list lives on, which is here.

Mandarin immersion program list 2019-01-01


  • Adobe Bluffs Elementary School, Poway Unified School District, San Diego
  • AXIS International Academy, Ft. Collins, CO (opening Fall 2019)
  • Camelot Prep, Orange, CA K – 12 Private.
    • I had been told by a parent that this school had diminished the amount of Mandarin taught and had deleted it previously. The schools says otherwise. Trying to find other parents to get a better sense of the school and its focus but I’m adding it back in for now.
  • Chief Sealth International High School 
    • This is the high school portion of Seattle Public Schools’ Mandarin immersion program. It begins at Beacon Hill Elementary and Dearborne Elementary schools, continues at Mercer Middle School and then finishes at Chief Sealth. [Note: Sealth is pronounced See-ELTH. And he was indeed the Salish chief after whom the city was named.]
  • Cornerstone Mandarin Immersion Program, Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Pacific Academy, K – 12, Irvine, Calif.
  • Polis Montessori World School, private, New York City

International Additions:

  • No. 28 Primary School in District 5  in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
    • This is an elementary and possible middle school (K-8, I think) in Argentina.  The only information I could gather was from a news article here.
  • Luyanzi College Kampala, Uganda
    • This is a school that teaches Mandarin and may be immersion. While it’s called a college, what I can glean from its website and the article about it online makes it seem as if it’s more a high school-college, which isn’t uncommon in many parts of the world. But not fully clear. It has a website, though it’s not always up. There’s also an article up about it here.


  • Plantation Elementary School in Lafayette, La.
    • Has changed its name to Cpl. Micheal Middlebrook Elementary


  • UC iPrep Charter Academy, Los Angeles.
    • Closed abruptly on August 22, 2018
  • Worldspeak, Los Angeles
    • Removed as a parent told me it is only preschool and Kindergarten. Waiting to hear back from the school.


Inside Alhambra’s dual immersion programs in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish

December 31, 2018


Alhambra , CA United States

At the end of October, Fremont Elementary School’s first grade Spanish dual-language immersion class were treated to a special guest.

Los Angeles Times journalist Esmeralda Bermudez was stopping by to talk about the benefits of teaching children to speak multiple languages at a young age.

The Salvadoran American reporter grew up speaking English and Spanish and made headlines after writing about a stranger scolding her for speaking Spanish and “confusing the poor girl” in public.

“One of the best gifts you can give your child — a gift that keeps connection to all generations and keeps your culture — is the gift of teaching your home language,” said Bermudez of what she learned from that experience, according to an Alhambra Unified School District press release.

Please read more here.