TNCS Hosts Four Elementary Students from China!

As mentioned in last week’s Immersed, The New Century School takes advantage of the 2-week holiday many Chinese have in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year by hosting special programs and inviting various groups to TNCS. For the Year of the Pig, first came a group of six university students, eager to take home innovative education ideas, followed by the topic of this week’s post, four students and their parents.

In the English–Mandarin Classroom

The purpose behind this second visit was some cultural exchange—immersion in an English-speaking classroom for the Chinese students for 2 weeks, and a chance for TNCS students to practice conversation skills in Mandarin with their visiting friends Lucy, Tiger, Tiffany, and Meg. All students took full advantage of this rich opportunity to increase their language proficiency.

The outgoing and adaptable quartet meshed immediately with their new schoolmates. Lucy and Tiger were welcomed into Mrs. Sharma’s 4th- and 5th-grade homeroom, Meg joined Mrs. Biancaniello‘s 2nd- and 3rd-grade class, and Tiffany joined Ms. Shaffer‘s K/1st-grade classroom.

As you’ll readily see in these videos, the model of native-speaking peers teaching learners of a language really works.

Their parents, Meghan (Meg’s mom), Yang (Lucy’s mom), and Zhuo and DeKai (Tiffany and Tiger’s mom and dad) toured TNCS and were often on campus, visited various sites around Baltimore, including a tea date at Teavolve, and made satellite trips to Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

Field Trip to the Maryland Science Center

tncs-hosts-chinese elementary-studentsIt must be said that having the visitors in class for 2 weeks meant that TNCS students got a bit of a holiday as well. In addition to making balloon animals and doing other fun activities that helped cement relationships and increased the number of opportunities for relaxed (and therefore authentic) communication, they got to go on an extra field trip during that time to the Maryland Science Center!

They started on the top floor and made their way down, in general, getting their science on! They visited all of the interactive exhibits with placards in English and in Spanish, including the Bed of Nails—a huge hit, even with the teachers!

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Next, they got to do a cycle of experiments in the Science Lab: DNA Extraction, Polymer Properties, and Mystery Mixture.


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Visiting Friends’ Homes

One big part of any cultural exchange is the experience of what family life is like in the host culture. On one occasion, Lucy and Meg and their mothers spent part of an afternoon with the Horvaths. Over a leisurely luncheon, lots of fascinating conversation took place—even a little vocabulary game of naming Chinese zodiac characters in Mandarin. Lunch was catered by Orient Express, the best Chinese restaurant in Baltimore and conveniently owned by a TNCS parent!

After lunch, all four children disappeared upstairs to play games.

It was a wonderful afternoon—a great time was had by all!

Closing Ceremony

Although this post cannot possibly cover all the amazing experiences that our group of TNCS and Chinese students shared together, the closing ceremony that marked the end of the visit is a must-see. (And, don’t worry, All of the fun had on Chinese New Year will be the topic of next week’s Immersed, coinciding with the final day of the 2-week Lunar New Year celebration.)

TNCS Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director Roberta Faux started things off with a lovely speech.

From there, TNCS students took the stage to pay tribute to their new friends.

Next, it was the guests’ turn to take the stage.

Megan’s tribute speech sums up their visit, including what a wonderful experience it was, how grateful they are to have had it, how she believes that the immersion experience is profoundly valuable and effective . . .  and how badly her daughter Meg did not want to leave! Most importantly, she expressed how happy the children were during the whole visit and how excited to come to school every day. There’s no better compliment!

After Lucy, Tiger, Tiffany, and Meg were presented with Certificates of Participation and TNCS tee shirts, Señora Duncan closed the ceremony with another lovely speech. Guests then mingled, had some snacks, and gave goodbye hugs.

Farewell, Dear Friends

TNCS students were sad to see them go, but plans are in the works for keeping in touch with Lucy, Tiger, Tiffany, and Meg, who will always be remembered by TNCS!

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(Psst! We also have the very good fortune of welcoming a second group of Chinese students starting February 11th, which an upcoming Immersed will detail, so stay tuned!)

Update 2/15/19: Meghan (Meg’s mom) also wrote a blog about the experience that you can read here. Although it is in Chinese, anyone can appreciate how beautiful it is, and the positive feedback is very evident!

Meet the Teacher: Pei Ge Rejoins TNCS!

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Pei Ge first joined The New Century School as an assistant in 2016 after earning a bachelor’s degree at Towson University. She then decided to pursue a master’s in early childhood education also at Towson. On graduating this past January, she returned to TNCS in an enhanced role.

“Peggy,” better known as “Pei-Pei Laoshi” to her students, is originally from Shanghai, in China. There, she taught children ages 3 to 6 years. In 2012, she came to the United States and taught in the English program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Now, living in Towson and back at TNCS, she assists as a floater among the primary classrooms during the mornings, and then teaches the Mandarin Chinese language each afternoon to the lower elementary classes. In fact, the kindergarten/1st-grade level is her favorite grade, but she is certified to teach toddlers up through 3rd-graders. “I’m kind of flexible for the grade,” she said. “My hope is that, maybe next semester if they have a position available for me, I can take the whole class. The Chinese immersion program would be perfect for me.”

Pei-Pei Laoshi is really a perfect fit for the TNCS approach to education. “I really like it here because they have a lot of choice for the language,” she explained. “Teaching Spanish and Chinese provides children with a really great opportunity to learn new languages at a young age. I really think that’s a good idea for young kids, especially with Chinese, because they are able to correctly reproduce the tones when they’re that young. When they’re older, there will be no problem for them.”

She also appreciates the TNCS emphasis on meeting each child at the child’s level: “Because in my class I know there is a Chinese level difference, I try to make sure that I meet everyone’s needs. I use differentiation for each one to make sure that they can learn based on their level.” She works with Li Laoshi to get an idea of each student’s learning profile, as many of her current students were formerly taught by Li Laoshi. They communicate regularly.

Her own style also aligns with TNCS’s overall approach:

For me, my goal is that students can play while learning—not just sitting there while I say, ‘you have to remember this and remember that’—we play and have fun, but we learn something, too. They enjoy it more and learn more when they have hands-on activities. For example, instead of rote memorization of vocabulary words, they might create their own books and vocabulary charts, which will be fun for them as well as being something they created.

For the Chinese Lunar New Year, she and her students made dumplings together. Pei-Pei Laoshi is a lucky rat in the Chinese zodiac.

In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, reading, and painting. She also likes to relax at home and favors Towson for being a small, quiet town. When she feels like being social, she watch movies with friends and scouts out new restaurants to try (for good, authentic Chinese food, she recommends Orient Express, near the Hopkins campus).

Traveling is also important to Pei-Pei Laoshi. So far, she has visited San Diego; Los Angeles; Seattle; Las Vegas;IMG_0910 and, of course, Orlando.

In closing, she affirmed, “I want the students to want to come to my class everyday, and happily. Then, parents will feel the same, and that’s my goal, too.”

Well said, indeed, Pei-Pei Laoshi!