Elyn Song’s Elective Mandarin Class at Geneva West Street School expanded to cover every classroom this school year. Instead of extending from Kindergarten to second grade, the Mandarin class reached out to the Head Start Pre-Kindergarten Program with two different levels for the first time. The first and second graders began to learn how to build sentences this year. And the second graders felt unprecedented fulfillment when they were able to write Chinese characters all by themselves after two years of studying Mandarin verbally.
The Dual Language Immersion Program at Geneva West Street School has attracted more attention from the community. In September and October, CIAU faculty Lili Huang taught the 1st grade immersion program students how to name body parts, colors, seasons, pets, school supplies, family members, weather, days of the week, and months of the year in Chinese. Lili Huang taught them simple sentences such as “I like…” and “I love…” which provided them with good opportunities for communication and stimulated their enthusiasm for speaking Chinese. The students felt excited when they sang Chinese songs. Their parents gave some positive feedback: “Our children enjoyed singing Chinese songs very much.”
The Mandarin Immersion Program became positive news in the local community, as it attracted local TV stations and newspapers to report on the program. We also did many activities to promote cultural and artistic exchange in the Geneva School District.
The Nanjing Normal University Art Troupe gave a wonderful performance, increasing the interest of children and their parents in Chinese culture. Immersion program teacher Lili Huang performed a Chinese folk song and had an interaction with her students which achieved a good effect.
In the kindergarten Chinese Immersion Class, Fang (Starry) He taught her students words about school, colors, animals, family, and autumn. “For second- language learners, especially for kindergarteners, it is very important to give effective input with visual and audio stimulation,” Starry said. Based on the idea of communication as a combination of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, Starry used a variety of teaching strategies and activities in her class, including pictures, music, rhymes, and Total Physical Response (TPR) language learning activities with these beginners. Her students learned Chinese songs and rhymes, read Chinese story books, watched Chinese cartoons, and made Chinese books. Besides, Starry tried to teach students math in Chinese, including counting, measure words, and written numbers.
In less than two months, her students mastered about 70 basic and high frequency words in Chinese. The children can now greet others and express their opinions with some simple phrases and sentence structures, and they can write numbers and their Chinese names.
September 27th was the traditional Chinese Moon Festival, and CIAU teacher Chen Jinxiang held a two-week long cultural experience event at Geneva West Street School. She organized many activities including paper-cutting rabbits and storytelling to help students learn more about Chinese culture. The rabbits were displayed during the Open House on Oct. 15th.
During the Open House, some parents spoke Chinese, as well. They said that they were learning Chinese from their children. The kids enjoyed speaking in Chinese, which made their life full of fun. And they also said they would like to thank the Confucius Institute and would support their children continuing to learn Chinese at West Street School.