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South Valley Riverton Journal

Chinese immersion program family comes together to celebrate holiday

Feb 23, 2022 06:06PM ● By Jet Burnham

A variety of activity booths allowed students and parents to learn about Chinese culture and traditions. (Photo courtesy of Jordan School District.)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Trisha Teeples, a senior at Herriman High School, has spent 11 years immersed in Chinese language and culture as a student in Jordan District’s Chinese dual language immersion program.

“Learning Chinese has actually been really fun with all the activities we get to do,” she said.

Learning Chinese painting and paper cutting, playing Chinese instruments and performing Chinese dances has always been a part of how students have celebrated Chinese New Year at DLI schools. Teeples said Chinese New Year is also about coming together with family. That is why the Jordan District family of Chinese DLI schools celebrated this year’s holiday with a combined event.

The Chinese DLI program is in its eleventh year, with 1,720 students in grades 1–12 enrolled in four elementary schools, four middle schools and four high schools in Jordan District.

A community Chinese New Year celebration was held at Herriman High School Feb. 2 to celebrate the success of and bring awareness to the program.

“We really want to celebrate their achievement and success and to showcase our students,” Herriman High School DLI teacher Kimberly Chen-Pace said.

Elementary and high school DLI students performed for their parents and peers, with traditional dances and songs. Middle school students demonstrated what they have learned through class projects about Chinese instruments, opera, medicine and foods.

Mountain Creek Middle DLI teacher Michael Lu said it was a great opportunity for his students to share their knowledge with younger students and parents because it helped them realize how far they’ve come in their own learning.

“The DLI program is challenging,” he said. “But they progress each day and this is an opportunity for them to see the achievements they have made.”

Eastlake Elementary fifth grade DLI teacher Thomas Boulay said it helped younger students to see older students and get an idea of how much they will know in a few years. Parents also got the chance to see the potential for their children who are just starting out in the DLI program.

The celebration exposed Heidi Goodrich to some of what her son Braeden has been so excited to learn in his second grade DLI class at Eastlake Elementary, such as writing Chinese characters and creating Chinese crafts. Goodrich said exposing her son to different cultures is one of the reasons she placed him in the DLI program.

Culture is an integral part of the DLI program.

“We expect students to learn language through learning culture,” state DLI specialist Chi Kao said.

Older students take Chinese history and modern Chinese culture classes, while younger students explore Chinese culture through arts, crafts and games.

With a degree in English as a Second Language and experience teaching English to Chinese children, Alexis Tanner understands the cognitive benefits for young children who learn a second language. That’s why she has enrolled her son in the Chinese DLI program at Foothills Elementary.

The DLI program prepares students to pass the Advanced Placement Chinese test and they graduate with nine college credits.