During the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola aired an ad which showed heartwarming images of American families set to the soundtrack of “America the Beautiful,” sung in various languages. When an outspoken and angry group of people took to social media to express their outrage that average Americans could be shown speaking other languages, my friend Stephanie at InCulture Parent responded with the voices of bilingual children, proclaiming their pride in their linguistic abilities and their country. The result is a very powerful video, and I am so thrilled that my son got to be in it to represent Mandarin speakers:
Read Stephanie’s full explanation of her reasons for making the video. And if you don’t read InCulture Parent, a resource for “parents raising little global citizens,” you should. Please spread this video on your social networks, to show the world that most Americans are proud of our multilingual heritage.
In case you missed it, the original Coke ad is here:
[This will be cross-posted at Today’s Mama]
Ever since he saw his first lion dance, my son has been obsessed, regularly using a blanket over his head and an impromptu drum to dance around our living room, pawing the ground, jumping up, and performing acrobatic feats just like the real thing. This year he had a chance to be part of a real lion dance at his school which was one of the most exciting moments in his five-year-old life. Outside of the celebratory two week Lunar New Year period, lion dances are usually few and far between, but this weekend in San Francisco is a chance to again partake in the fun. The Asian Heritage Festival, Saturday from 11-6 outside the Civic Center, will kick off with a Lion Dance troup, and will also feature a variety of performers, vendors, and more. Find more information here and see their ad below:
If you are raising Mandarin-speaking children in the Bay Area and would like to meet or interact with other families like you, I’ve recently learned about (and joined) a number of email groups that may be of interest:
*Advocates for Chinese Education is a Bay Area-based group that promotes Chinese-language learning in local schools. They helped set up the successful immersion programs in San Francisco public schools. Their website is here and their Yahoo group is here. They also produce an annual newsletter and run Mandarin Play and Learn groups for toddlers.
*The Mandarin Immersion Parents Council is an active group of parents whose children are in the SF immersion programs. Their website is a wealth of information about immersion programs around the country, resources for supporting Mandarin learners at home, and news about local schools.
*The Bay Area Chinese Education Community is a Yahoo group “for the sharing of information related to the learning of (Mandarin) Chinese language and culture in the San Francisco Bay Area, Pre-K through high school.” You can sign up to join here.
*Farther south, The Mandarin Chit Chat Yahoo group shares information and resources for Silicon Valley and the South Bay. Sign up here.
Please let me know of other resources I may have missed. I’m not aware of any group that focuses on the East Bay, but if any readers are interested in setting such a group up, send me a message and we can join forces.
*The San Francisco Examiner lists activities and events for celebrating Chinese new year in the area. Hurry, the two week holiday ends this weekend with the Lantern Festival (and the big New Year parade in San Francisco Chinatown).
*A monthly Blogging Carnival focuses on linking bloggers who write about raising bilingual children. This month’s carnival was hosted by SpanglishBaby and features a link from yours truly. Lots of good material in there.
*A new study says babies can be bilingual before birth if their mom speaks two languages while they are in utero.
This Sunday, the 14th, is the first day of the Year of the Tiger, and the Bay Area is a great place to celebrate. Lunar New Year celebrations big and small can be found all over. We usually love the pan-Asian New Year Festival at the Oakland Museum, which is the right mix of performances, food, and crafts for kids of all ages. But unfortunately the museum is undergoing renovation this year so they won’t be holding the event.
On Monday, February 15 (President’s Day), the Bay Area Discovery Museum will hold their annual Chinese New Year Celebration with lion dances, and arts and crafts projects. It is generally crowded but fun. More info is here.
And of course the largest parade outside of Asia is held in San Francisco at the end of the two -week New Year holiday, this year on Saturday February 27 at 5:15 pm. More information is here.
On a smaller scale in the East Bay, I noticed during a recent visit that Ranch 99/Pacific East shopping center in Richmond will have a lion dance performance on Saturday February 20.
In the spirit of the season, here’s a song our whole family memorized after a pre-school new year performance last year: Read the rest of this entry »
East Bay Express, our local free weekly, has published a very nice article about my son’s Mandarin immersion school here in the Bay Area. It gives a good picture of how an immersion classroom works and why full immersion is really the best way for children to learn a second language. I recommend the article, whether or not you are local, as it’s an interesting read for anyone thinking about teaching or learning languages.
I just discovered that the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council of the San Francisco public school system keeps a blog, which has a lot of good information and resources for families in immersion programs. Most of the site focuses on the immersion program in San Francisco, which is offered at two public schools. But one post, Mandarin Immersion Frequently Asked Questions, I found useful for anyone with questions about bilingual education and how to best teach your children Chinese. Another post explores the benefits of teaching kids to read Chinese fluently before teaching them characters. They have also posted a list of Mandarin immersion programs in schools throughout the U.S. Immersion programs are getting to be more and more popular: A new Chinese immersion charter school is getting ready to open in Washington DC as well.
Today in the San Francisco Chronicle, a non-Chinese speaking mother blogged about sending her daughter to a Mandarin immersion school. She writes:
Since school started, I have stepped back and watched Paris learn Chinese and I’ve put forth little effort to learn about the language, the country, the culture.
And then last week in the car Paris said, “Mommy, I wish that I was born in China. I really want to be Chinese.”
I was entirely unprepared for this comment, so rather than offer up words of wisdom, I simply asked, “Why?”
“I want to celebrate the Chinese New Year, like the Chinese do. Mommy, we have to get haircuts and clean the house before the new year celebration starts. And I want a red envelope. And did you know that it’s the Year of the Ox? And we need new clothes. And we need to have a special dinner with Chinese food…”
“Sweetheart, you don’t have to be Chinese to celebrate Chinese New Year. We can celebrate the holiday.”
If you are trying to get your kids excited about Chinese culture and language, of course now is the best time of year to do it. Lion dancers, fireworks, red envelopes, dumplings, drums, dancing, demons… They all make Chinese New Year a pretty enticing time for little ones.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is plenty to do, including the pan-Asian cultural festival at the Oakland Museum which is packed full with kung fu performers, drummers, lion and dragon dancers, arts and crafts activities, food and more. San Francisco holds the biggest Chinese new year parade in the country, on Lantern Festival, at the end of the two week holiday (February 7 this year). The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco will also have a special family event on February 1. On the other coast, outside Boston, the Peabody Essex Museum will hold Chinese New Year activities on January 30-31. ChildBook, an online store selling books and other cultural products, has compiled a list of Chinese New Year activities around the country, so you can find some fun closer to home.