April 27, 2007 MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA. — Reflective of California's growing interest in Mandarin education, nearly a thousand students representing 35 schools, from diverse ethnic & social backgrounds, gathered at Lowell High School in San Francisco, for a statewide Mandarin speech contest sponsored by the Chinese Language Teachers' Association on Saturday, April 21, 2007.
Yew Chung International School-Silicon Valley (YCIS-SV), a branch of the Yew Chung Global Education Network, in Mountain View, reports that over one third of their entrants took home honors, including a first place finish by 7 year old Yasmine Razzak, a Palo Alto resident from an English-only household, who won top prize in the 2nd grade non-native speaker category.
Other YCIS-SV winners included Ken Wen (winner of 1st place in the 3rd grade native speaker category), Anyka Chan (winner of 3rd place in the 1st grade non-native speaker category), Jillian Li (winner of "Honorable Mention) and Victoria Wang (winner of "Honorable Mention").
Mr. James Matthews, Principal of YCIS-SV, said "we're extremely proud of all of our students who participated in this competition, they all did extremely well, and we're particularly gratified that six of our 13 entrants won honors in the 9 categories we competed in. We think this validates our school's fun thematic hybrid approach to teaching Mandarin. We believe a hybrid approach makes Mandarin fluency more widely available than strict dual-immersion programs,”
For well over a decade, Yew Chung’s sister schools in Shanghai & Beijing have taught primarily non-Mandarin speaking expatriate children living in China. Bucking the local trend of dual-immersion, at Yew Chung International School, core classes such as Math, Science, and English Language Arts are taught solely in English by California-credentialed native English speakers. Only 30% of Yew Chung’s daily class time is conducted in Mandarin (about 1.5 hours per day) by a separate native Mandarin-speaking teacher who has been specifically trained in the Yew Chung methods.
Yew Chung credits the effectiveness of its Mandarin program to an emphasis on co-teaching, a highly developed curriculum specifically designed to teach Chinese as a Second Language (CSL), and an extensive creative and performing arts program. Students perform skits and school plays in Mandarin and/or English almost every other month.
According to Yew Chung Vice-Principal Helen Wong, “One of the most effective ways to teach children a foreign language, or any language, is to help them develop a positive association with it and to have fun, rather than use a drill and kill method.” This sentiment is at the heart of the successful Yew Chung hybrid approach to language learning.
Mandarin fluency for students coming from primarily English-speaking households –a fun and attainable goal, according to students, teachers, and administrators from Yew Chung International School.