Mandarin Institute STARTALK 2011 Programs

The Mandarin Institute successfully conducted three summer programs with our STARTALK grant award. STARTALK is a federally funded initiative which began in 2006 as a way to expand and improve the teaching and learning of critically important world languages that are not now widely taught in the U.S.

The Elementary Mandarin Immersion Program (June 13 - Aug 15) was designed for San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUSD) 1st – 5th graders who are currently enrolled in a Mandarin immersion program. The program provided continuity for retention, enhanced learning, and reinforcement of Chinese language and culture skills. The STARTALK grant enabled socio-economically disadvantaged children to participate; a constituency of SFUSD that might not otherwise be able to access such an opportunity.

Over 165 students experienced Chinese language learning through a variety of traditional activities such as singing, Chinese calligraphy, brush painting, Chinese arts and crafts, drama and Chinese Folk music. Language acquisition was enhanced and reinforced as a result of their participation in these fun, immersion-based activities.

From our STARTALK site evaluation:

“This summer camp gave students the opportunity to learn and use Chinese in a fun, stimulating, and nurturing environment. The curriculum is based on 'can do' statements with clear goals. The lessons were clearly focused on allowing students to use language in meaningful ways.”

“The program has three cultural sections taught by experts in their fields.”

“The administrative team is extremely attentive to detail. The teachers in the program are dedicated and skilled.”

The High School Chinese Intensive Program (June 27 – Aug 5) offered a unique opportunity for San Francisco Bay Area students with 1-2 years of formal Mandarin study to immerse themselves in a culturally rich and academically intensive program. Priority registration was given to students who are socio-economically disadvantaged or do not have access to a Chinese program in their schools. Twenty three students participated in the program and those who successfully completed the program earned SFUSD Foreign Language Credit.

Every day, our students participated in 6 hours of engaging language and culture study. This included spending 50 minutes daily with their own personal instructor located in China resulting in an authentic language and cultural learning experience.

From our STARTALK site evaluation:

“The students were engaged throughout the day. In this program, students are immersed using Chinese 100% of the time and they actively seek out opportunities to use Chinese outside of the classroom.”

“Students connect daily with an online tutor in China who works with individual students on their needs while allowing students to build confidence when interacting with native speakers of Chinese.”

“Students have one field trip each session. The students also engage weekly in cultural activities such as Chinese calligraphy, Brush Painting, Tai Chi and Chinese Acrobatics, and they are appreciated by the students as they cover topics that are not typically available to high school students.”

The K-12 Chinese Teacher Preparation Program (Aug 1-5) was developed for newer Chinese language and culture teachers and teachers who are new to teaching Chinese in US classrooms. Where schools demonstrated financial need for professional training, their teachers received priority registration. Fourteen teachers from the US and China came to learn from our master instructors - and from each other.

The participants engaged in daily workshops led by our master instructors addressing issues such as teaching in the target language, curriculum design, lesson planning, technology, differentiated instruction and classroom management. The teachers were given the rare opportunity to participate in practicums which involved teaching in real classrooms with American students in addition to gaining practical communication skills through interacting with real school administrators and parents. The program provided best practices, teaching resources and critical strategies the teachers need to be innovative and successful in their own classrooms and schools.

From our STARTALK site evaluation:

“This program offered an opportunity for newer K-12 Chinese teachers to gain concrete classroom experience teaching American students in immersion settings. Teacher trainees have the opportunity to observe and micro-teach in realistic classrooms at both the elementary and high school levels.”

“Teachers participate in two lessons given in other languages. The first is in Spanish on which demonstrated techniques from total physical response. The Swedish lesson modeled how teachers might remain in the target language on Day 1 of a language class and demonstrated techniques from Accelerated Learning.”

“There is a strong leadership team that is involved daily with the program. The lead instructors are current teachers who have direct experience working with students in the K-12 setting”.