This is a monthly newsletter from Asia Society Education dedicated to Chinese language and culture programs in schools.

October 2015

In this Issue
The Many Dialects of China
CELIN Connection
TEQ Time
Online Resources
News and Opportunities Analyses, how-tos, lesson plans, and much more.
Heavenly Street at Mt. Tai (See-Ming Lee / Flickr)
Heavenly Street at Mt. Tai (See-Ming Lee / Flickr)

The Many Dialects of China

By Kiril Bolotnikov

The vast majority of people, if asked what language is spoken in China, would say: That's a no-brainer: Chinese, of course! Some might know enough to differentiate between Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. But the truth is far more complex than that.

Mandarin Chinese alone is the most widely spoken native language in the world: nearly a billion within China alone and 1.2 billion worldwide—a few hundred million people more than the next most widespread languages, Spanish and English.

This is yet another aspect of China and Chinese society that is easy to see as a monolith, but doing so would allow this number to obscure the many complexities and subtleties of the real story. In fact, Mandarin itself is only a dialect—albeit a widespread one—of the overarching language group of "Chinese," which itself comes from the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. Mandarin Chinese is known as 普通话 (Pǔtōnghuà), the "common speech," and it has only been the official language of China since the 1930s, when the country established it as the standard dialect and began pushing to make this a reality nationwide.

The point of all this is that Mandarin is one of many dialects, and it is important to understand the diversity of dialects within China. Read on!

CELIN Connection

Happy Halloween, a time for fun and creativity!

Students in a 2nd grade Utah dual immersion program play a "Place Values Game."In the spirit of the excitement and innovation of this time of year, we invited Utah Chinese Dual Language Immersion Program to share their story with us. This month we are pleased to feature the Utah Program Profile, which serves over 7,500 students in grades K–7 in 12 school districts and plans to expand to high school.

The program, which is part of a broad state initiative that involves instruction in several languages, began in 2008, when the Utah Senate passed the International Initiatives (Senate Bill 41), creating funding for Utah schools to begin Dual Language Immersion programs in Chinese, French, and Spanish. At the same time, then-Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. initiated the Governor's Language Summit and the Governor's World Language Council, both with a goal to create a K–12 language roadmap for Utah. Learn more. For program profiles of other immersion programs, click here.

As announced previously, the interactive CELIN Program Directory is available. In this directory, 173 programs are listed, with details about their key features. You may search by state, city, program name, and grades taught. You may also check if your program is included. If so, we'd love to have your updates so the data reflect your latest developments. If not, please fill out this online form, so our staff may contact you to verify your school's information and enter it into this directory. This is a great service to programs, prospective educators, parents, and teachers. Please spread the word and visit the directory as much as possible. We also welcome your feedback and your vision for next steps.

The ACTFL 2015 Convention is quickly approaching, November 20–22, in sunny San Diego, California. CELIN will present a session entitled, "What Chinese Language Curricula Are Available and Needed?" (Session #4257, Friday, November 20, 5:00–6:00 PM). Dr. Joy Peyton (CELIN) will present with Dr. Jianhua Bai (Kenyon College, Ohio) and Dr. Yulan Lin (Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools, CLASS), both leaders in the field of Chinese language education and research. This session will focus on issues related to curriculum development and curricula that are available in the field of Chinese early language and immersion education. This is also a great opportunity to voice your concerns or needs for curriculum and materials in the field. Please come and join us!

Enjoy the transition of the seasons, wherever you are.

–Shuhan Wang and Joy Peyton

TEQ Time

Instructional Videos for Chinese Language Teachers
Part of Asia Society's professional development series for educators, these instructional videos for Chinese language teachers aim to share best practices in the field of Chinese language teaching. Learn more.

This month, we are featuring Ms. Sun Burford's Grades 7 & 8 Novice Chinese Class at Tyee Middle School in Washington State. In the video below, you can see her in action in her classroom. You can also find her accompanying lesson plan.


Ms. Sun Burford teaches her class at Tyee Middle School in Seattle.

Online Resources

Students Experience the Breadth of China Through Meticulous Preparation and Multiple Trips
By Heather Clydesdale
Chinese American International School (CAIS) in San Francisco has a commitment to providing its students diverse learning experiences in China. The school organizes trips for its students to Taipei, Beijing, and Qinghai over three years. Even more impressive, CAIS prepares students using technology and innovative approaches that deepen learning outcomes during these immersive linguistic and cultural experiences. Read on!

Part II. China Night: An Annual Performance That Enhances Learning.
Preparation and Student Engagement

By Heidi Steele
China Night is an important event for students to integrate what they have learned in their Chinese classrooms and share their knowledge with the school communities. Last month, Heidi Steele reflected on the purpose of China Night. This month, Heidi shares her experience planning China Night at Gig Harbor and Peninsula High Schools in the Peninsula School District of Washington State, and how she successfully engaged her students in the process. Read Part II here.

Sophie Anderson with her language partner at Olympic Park in Beijing. (Sophie Anderson)Language is More Than a Tool
By Sophie Anderson
Sophie Anderson, a junior at Western Washington University, spent five weeks in Beijing this summer. She was frustrated to realize how difficult it was to actually find an immersion experience. However, a strong friendship she developed with her language partner changed her perspective about studying in China. Read her story.

Changing the World
Mark Zuckerberg spoke in Chinese at Tsinghua University in Beijing on why you need a strong sense of mission to change the world. Watch the video.

News and Opportunities from the Field

Author Talk with Eric Fish: Please join the China Institute on Tuesday, November 3, for an author talk with Eric Fish, who will discuss his recently published work, China's Millennials. In the book, Eric Fish, a millennial himself, profiles youth from around China to show how they are navigating the education system, the workplace, divisive social issues, and a resurgence in activism. Based on interviews with scholars, journalists, and hundreds of young Chinese, his engrossing book challenges the idea that today's youth have been pacified by material comforts and nationalism. Learn more and register.

The Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Program: The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational the Cultural Affairs and is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE). It seeks to promote mutual understanding among teachers, their schools, and communities in the U.S and abroad. Participants in this three- to six- month program for U.S. teachers (or four-month program for international teachers) are based at university-level schools of education. They take courses, lead master classes and seminars, visit local schools, collaborate with each other online and in person, and complete an inquiry project of their design. Application deadline for U.S. teachers is November 4, 2015. Learn more.

The IIE AIFS Foundation Generation Study Abroad Enrichment Grant: The IIE AIFS Foundation Generation Study Abroad Enrichment Grants is a professional development program to support U.S. secondary level (grades 6–12) teachers who have shown to be outstanding advocates for study abroad. The goal of the program is to help raise global awareness in the classroom and prepare students for global citizenship and study abroad. Fifty (50) enrichment grants of $1,000 each are available to teachers to conduct any learning activity in the U.S. or abroad that enhances their international outlook and global experience. Application deadline is December 1, 2015. Learn more.

2016 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL): The Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages serves educators in all languages (including classical, less commonly taught, and ESL), at all levels from kindergarten through university, in both public and private settings. The theme of NECTFL 2016 is Developing Intercultural Competence through World Languages. The conference will take place in New York City at the NY Hilton Midtown from February 11–13, 2016. Learn more.

The 14th New York International Conference on Teaching Chinese, sponsored by the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Greater New York (CLTA-GNY), New School University and Nanjing University, will be held on Saturday, May 7 at New School University in New York City. You are invited to submit a proposal for this conference! Deadline: February 15, 2016.

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.

China Learning Initiatives Team
Asia Society
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