This is a monthly newsletter from the Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning dedicated to Chinese language and culture programs in schools.

January 2014

In this Issue
To Grow Good Writers, Feed Them Great Literature
Announcing CELIN at Asia Society
Online Resources
Image of the Month
News and Opportunities Analyses, how-tos, lesson plans, and much more.

Save the Dates!

Don't miss the most innovative gathering of Chinese language programs. May 8–10, 2014. Learn more.


The only education conference dedicated to global competence now has a language learning strand. Learn more.

To Grow Good Writers,
Feed Them Great Literature

By Heather Clydesdale

How can learning Chinese help American students become adept writers? The question is simple, but startling.

Discussions in the field of teaching Chinese as a foreign language tend to focus on challenges presented by the language itself: thousands of characters, syntax that has no counterpart in English, and tones. These are fundamental, and new research and applications for addressing them are both needed and appreciated, but it is invigorating to hear from professionals who mark an ambitious target beyond language acquisition. At the 2013 National Chinese Language Conference in Boston, three experts from Cambridge Public Schools in Massachusetts essentially reached for the stratosphere, presenting strategies to help students use Chinese to practice and develop the craft of writing.

“Children are such natural storytellers,” explains Vivian Tam, previously the FLAP Chinese immersion project coordinator at Cambridge Public Schools, and now principal of Jing Mei Elementary School in Bellevue, Washington. “They want to tell you in their drawing and their writing.” Tam and her colleagues, Szu-Ming Li and Kai Tan, who both teach in the Chinese Immersion Program at the Martin Luther King, Jr. School, have successfully applied mentor texts and the study of authors to guide kindergarten and first-grade students in becoming writers.

Read on and access resources for teaching with mentor texts!

Announcing CELIN at Asia Society

Asia Society is pleased to present a new initiative, the Chinese Early Language and Immersion Network (CELIN) at Asia Society. In response to the expressed needs of Chinese early language and immersion programs throughout the United States, CELIN was established in 2012 under the leadership of Dr. Shuhan Wang, President of ELE Consulting International and former Executive Director of Chinese Language Initiatives at Asia Society. Drs. Shuhan Wang and Joy Peyton will serve as CELIN’s Project Director and Senior Project Associate, in collaboration with the Chinese Language Initiatives team at Asia Society.

Through this initiative, we seek to convene and work together with practitioners, researchers, policy makers, parents, and advocates for language learning across the United States and beyond. Our goal is to strengthen and expand Chinese language education in early childhood and primary grades. An advisory committee of national leaders in the field of Chinese language, world languages, language immersion, and early childhood education will provide guidance to our work. To learn more about CELIN at Asia Society, please link here for the full announcement, or contact us at

Free download: Chinese Language Learning in the Early Grades, a handbook of resources and best practices for Mandarin immersion.


Online Resources

The Many Ways the World Communicates
This month we introduce the first activity in a curriculum module, The Beauty of World Languages (not yet published in full), which is designed to help students learn to appreciate languages in a new way. The activities in this module are aligned to the four pillars of global competence, and are easily implemented in a language classroom or in partnership with a language arts or arts unit on communications.

We are pleased to share the first activity, called The Many Ways the World Communicates. In this one-hour activity, students gain an understanding of the nature of human communication and foster a scientific view on languages. Through class activities, games, reading, and analysis, students will learn that speaking a language is only one way people communicate information. In order to make a language understandable among groups of people, a system of rules is necessary. Languages and words are not the same thing. Not all languages have a written form. Words have enormous influence on languages. Finally, a natural language is not static. It is developing all the time over time, space, and social factors. Explore the essential questions: What is a language? How do we look at languages in the world? This lesson is a formative task that can be combined with others in The Beauty of World Languages series to build what can be a two-week unit. This activity takes one standard class period, plus after-class reflection. Learn more.

Is Shanghai a Model of Educational Equity?
Headlines around the world in the last two months have been featuring a hotly contested debate about how societies should educate their youth for the global economy. In December, Shanghai's school system was named best in the world by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the United States came in slightly below average among industrialized nations. These results shone a spotlight on the relative strengths and weaknesses of education systems in China, the United States, and countries around the world—but when the stakes are excellence and equity in education, pitting school systems against each other is taking a narrow view. What's most compelling about the global education conversation isn't who's right and who's wrong, it's in the nuanced discourse about what each system is doing right, where there is room for improvement, and what we can learn from one another.

Here are some of the articles from both sides of the debate:

Raise Your Qin in Song

How to remember the chronology of Chinese dynasties? Harvard professors William Kirby and Peter Bol offer this trick to help us remember the major dynasties in order: a song to the tune of “Frère Jacques" (or 两只老虎). So qin up and sing a song!

Happy New Year of the Horse! 祝:吉祥如意,马到成功!
There are plenty of resources to share with students the artful ways in which the lunar new year is recognized and celebrated around the world. Here are a couple of photo galleries to get you started:

Google Doodles' 2014 dedication to the lunar new year.

中文 Matters
You may have noticed the calligraphy in our banner. The updated 中 (zhōng) and 文 (wén) have been selected from the work of Tang Dynasty calligrapher 颜真卿 (Yán Zhēnqīng): 多宝塔碑 (Duō Bǎo Tǎ Bēi/Duobao Pagoda Stele). 颜真卿 (709–785 AD) is popularly held as the only calligrapher who paralleled 王羲之 (Wáng Xīzhī), the "Sage of Calligraphy," and whose regular script style, Yan, is very commonly imitated by calligraphy learners in China, Japan, and Korea.


Image of the Month

Baidu, China’s largest search engine, created the above map (interactive), which shows the migration of roughly 35 million Chinese traveling for Lunar New Year.


News and Opportunities from the Field

Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminar in China: U.S. K–12 educators, administrators, and media resource specialists are invited to apply for the summer seminar, "History, Culture and Economic Development in China." Terms of the award include a round-trip economy airfare, room and board, tuition and fees, and program-related travel within China. Application deadline: February 5, 2014. Learn more.

2014 Chinese Guest Teacher & Trainee Program: The College Board Chinese Language and Culture Initiatives have opened applications to host a Chinese guest teacher or teacher-in-training for the 2014–15 school year. Application deadline is February 7, 2014. Learn more.

CARLA Summer Institute: Registration is now open for the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) Summer Institutes for Language Teachers and Summer Institutes for Immersion Teachers. Linking research and theory with practical applications for the classroom, each institute includes discussion, theory-building, hands-on activities, and networking with colleagues. Learn more.

Confucius China Study Plan: A variety of scholarships are available to support doctoral students studying in China while researching and writing their dissertations. Opportunities include: Joint Ph.D. Fellowship, Ph.D. in China Fellowship, Understanding China Fellowship, Young Leaders Fellowship, International Conference Grant, and Publication Grant. Application deadline: February 28, 2014. Learn more.

Leadership Institute – China on the World Stage: The 2014 Choices Geography Leadership Institute will be held June 24–27, 2014 at Brown University in Rhode Island. Secondary–level geography teachers, as well as teachers who incorporate a significant amount of geography in their teaching, are invited to apply. The Choices Geography Leadership Institute is an opportunity to examine the Choices Program’s materials and approach for teaching about contested international issues. There is no cost for the institute; meals, housing, and reading materials are provided. Application deadline: March 17, 2014. Learn more.

Student Summer Study in Beijing: The CLERC–Peking University Summer Chinese Language Program is accepting applications through April 11, 2014. The six-week intensive Mandarin Chinese learning program is tailored to high school seniors and college students (freshman and sophomore) who wish to learn and improve Chinese language quickly, and to better understand Chinese culture. College foreign language credits will be awarded to qualified students and transcript transfer service will be provided upon request after the program. Learn more.

Study Abroad for Teachers: Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that runs low-cost summer professional development travel programs designed for teachers. The China itinerary runs from July 28–August 4, 2014. Learn more.

Chinese Teacher Education Program: The Certificate Program in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (TCSOL) at Teachers College, Columbia University, is currently accepting applications for the 2014–2015 session. Spaces are limited. Learn more.

We welcome your feedback and encourage you to share information that is of interest to the wider community. Please feel free to contact us at and forward this newsletter on to others who are interested in Chinese language and culture programs in the schools.

Chinese Language Initiatives Team
Asia Society

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