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In collaboration with the University’s Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) and the College of Education and Human Development, the Confucius Institute pursued and received approximately $80,000 in funding from the National Center on Foreign Languages for a STARTALK grant to conduct a summer training program for Mandarin elementary immersion teachers.  The STARTALK Mandarin Elementary Immersion Summer Teacher’s Education Program (MEISTEP) ran from June 22 to July 17. As a four-week program aligned to national teacher preparation standards, the program allowed the participants to improve their curricular and instructional skills needed for integrating language, literacy, content, and culture in Mandarin immersion.  The focus of this program was the delivery of math content in an elementary immersion setting. In addition to their coursework, the teachers spent time at Yinghua Academy gaining valuable insight and sharpening their own immersion teaching skills through observation and practice. Participating teachers had the option of taking courses for credit and earned 2-4 graduate credits. This successful program received high praise from both the teacher participants and the STARTALK reviewers.

Participant photo

Participants had be English-proficient post-baccalaureates with native to near-native proficiency in Mandarin Chinese who are teaching in, or are seeking to teach in, a Mandarin Chinese elementary immersion program in the US where Mandarin is used to teach a minimum of 50 percent of school subjects during the elementary years.

Program Structure

Week One, June 22-26, 2009

Immersion 101 for Chinese and Japanese: An Introduction to Immersion Teaching
Week one consisted of learning the fundamentals of immersion education. Participants learned the principles and practices that support effective elementary immersion teaching specific to non-cognate, character-based languages whose writing system differs from English. Participants were also introduced to effective practices that inform language and literacy-attentive curriculum development and lesson plan frameworks that explicitly incorporate the National Foreign Language Standards for students as well as national/state content standards.

Week Two, June 29-July 2, 2009

Teaching elementary mathematics in a language immersion setting

Week two focused on theory and methods of teaching elementary mathematics in a language immersion setting. Participating teachers deepened their understanding of effective strategies for teaching language, literacy, and content simultaneously. Culturally specific approaches to mathematics were also addressed.

Weeks Three and Four, July 6-17, 2009


Weeks three and four focused on application of the previous two weeks of learning. Mornings were spent developing lessons and materials and teaching mathematics in a Mandarin immersion summer program at Yinghua Academy. Afternoons were spent reflecting on practicum experiences and planning mathematics curriculum unit overviews, lesson plans, and assessments for use during the upcoming school year.