STARTALK 2015 Campers Get a Taste of Taiwan!


The “costume room” at TECRO was filled with all sorts of interesting artifacts!

For the second year running, The New Century School is honored to be hosting STARTALK, the renowned language immersion program for students across the United States. As a key component of the program is cultural exploration, on Tuesday, July 14th, the lucky STARTALK campers traveled to Gaithersburg, MD to visit The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) Cultural Center.

TECRO is the Republic of China (ROC)’s principal representative office in the United States and maintains and develops bilateral relations between Taiwan and the United States. There are 12 satellite offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, but the Gaithersburg office is the main center. Its mission is to provide ROC expatriates and the locals in the greater Washington, D.C. area with an opportunity to learn more about Taiwan’s culture.

From decorative art, to dance, to cuisine, STARTALKers experienced Taiwanese culture firsthand! After exploring the displays of fine ceramics, figurines, and beautiful puppets, campers watched several dance performances. As the campers learned, China has 56 ethnic minorities, each of which has a culture that is characterized by (among other features) a unique folk dance. Each ethnic group’s folk dance reflects the particulars of that group’s geography, culture, and history through choreography and costumes. Although not all 56 groups were represented, STARTALKers certainly got an idea of the breadth of Chinese folk dance, from the Tibetan Xie Dance, to the Han Lantern Dance, to the Dai Peacock Dance, and more. They were understandably in awe of the talented young dancers!

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Authentic Chinese cuisine was served for lunch, which the kids devoured—and this was no “American” Chinese restaurant fare. Fried egg with spinach and tomato over rice, meatball with cabbage, and five-spice chicken made up the meal, and it was so good that some kids asked for another, to go!

The visit ended with some physical activity, as the kids learned how to perform the ribbon dance themselves, a welcome treat. Each camper also got a poster and a CD of traditional Taiwanese music to take home. Xièxie, TECRO, for a super day! 谢谢!

TNCS-Approved Resources: Avoid the Summer Slide!

Since its inception in 2010, The New Century School has annually offered resources to families to help prevent the “summer slide” phenomenon that can happen to kids over summer break when they might be less academically engaged than during the school year and lose scholastic ground as a consequence. Although this problem disproportionately affects underserved communities, it is nevertheless felt to a certain degree across the board, as teachers find themselves re-teaching concepts that were learned the previous year and then forgotten. Some research has shown that students can lose as much as 3 months of reading and math achievement over the course of just one summer. (See Making Summer Count for more details on relevant studies.)


Enoch Pratt’s Summer Reading program awards prizes to kids who fulfill a specified reading requirement and also offers the chance to “read down” your library fines!

The best way to slow the summer slide, according to the research, is to provide students with resources and educational activities. For summer 2015, TNCS’s elementary teachers compiled their own special set, curated especially for TNCS students. They also remind parents that summer is the ideal time to take trips to museums and libraries, get involved in organized activities, and making sure kids have access to books. In fact, Enoch Pratt library offers a wonderful summer reading program to incentivize kids to read, read, and read some more during summer. See Summer Reading Program for more information.

Language Arts

After TNCS students have worked very hard on their reading and comprehension all year long, to keep these skills sharp, try to read with your child each day and ask questions or talk about what you have read together. Here are suggested lists of unforgettable books, differentiated by grades*:

*The TNCS elementary team says: “Please remember, each child’s reading level develops at different rates. Some of these titles or authors may seem too easy or too difficult for your child. If your child picks a book you think may be too hard, have him/her read a full page aloud to you. If there are five or more mistakes while reading, the book is probably too difficult. If there are fewer than 5 errors, the book seems to be a good fit!”

Another list comes from 4th- and 5th-grade TED-Ed Club Members, who shared the books that they’ve recently read and want to recommend to other kids their age: “TED-Ed’s Summer Reading List: 31 great books for students, chosen by students.”

TNCS students have also been introduced to multiple easy-to-access language arts websites. The students will be familiar with their log-in information, having spent time on them throughout the prior school year. These include:


Math skills can also be lost without regular practice. Here are websites that TNCS students can use during the summer months:

World Languages

To keep current on both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese skills, your kids can visit the following websites (they will already know their log-in information for some of these):

The TNCS elementary team looks forward to seeing their students back for the 2015–2016 school year, refreshed and ready to hit the ground learning!