An Innovative Chinese Language Arts Curriculum: Better Immersion
Better Immersion is a K-5 Chinese Immersion Language Arts Program based on the adaptation of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. Topics in Better Immersion are derived from National History and Social Studies Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, as well as Common Core Math Standards. Meaningful vocabularies are selected by referring to ACTFL, AP, HSK requirements, and also determined high utility words across content areas. The target proficiency level at Grade 5 will be the equivalent of the ACTFL intermediate-mid level.
Better Immersion encompasses literature and informational text for science and social studies that complement the core content of Chinese language learning.
For the Kindergarten curriculum, there are a total of 32 weeks of instruction. Each eight-week unit covers one theme, with a total of four themes in the school year. The themes include, in the following order: Self, Relationships, Communities, and World.
For the first grade to fifth grade curricula, there are four thematic units per year: Self, Responsibilities, Changes, and Actions. The first three units are nine weeks each, and students explore each unit deeply through four different viewpoints, starting with “Personal View” and extending to “Interpersonal View,” “Society View,” and “World View.” The final unit, “Action,” contains four projects that represent four perspectives that test students’ context-dependent language skills, each of which takes one week to complete.
Text Types and Instruction Flow
There is not one “textbook”. Better Immersion mainly includes two types of reading materials: Vocabulary Text and Thematic Text.
- Vocabulary Text is a short and decodable text with new target characters and learned characters including those learned in previous grade levels.
- Thematic Text covers various genres and structures and includes cross-subject content knowledge.
Each lesson is weekly-based with both whole group instruction and small group activities ongoing for everyday. The whole group instruction is focused on vocabulary text or thematic text teaching. Small group activities also include center group the teacher can set up for the students at the similar proficiency level.
- For the first 16 weeks, the teacher mainly goes through 2-3 Readers per week (there is no Vocabulary Text yet). From the 17th week, Vocabulary Text, composed of vocabulary in previous 16 weeks, will be introduced. The teacher will go through both Vocabulary Text and Readers every week.
- Small group activity is the formative assessment ongoing everyday for 30 minutes and takes the format of rotation on listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Each activity has the learning objective, adapted CCSS standards, detailed steps, and the activity template.
- The first and second day’s teaching focuses on vocabulary text, while the third to fifth day’s teaching focuses on the Thematic text.
- Small group activities include listening, speaking, reading and writing, which takes the similar format as the K curriculum.
- G3-5 will spend whole week on complex text instruction due to the instructional focus change to higher-order thinking skills. The complex text contains various genres (including story, biography..) and covers topics and themes from other core course (science, social studies, etc). It is content rich and helps improve academic language.
- For G3-4, vocabulary texts will be in students’ workbooks as independent reading resources, while for G5, there will be no more vocabulary text.
- For the small group activity, G3 is similar to K-2 in the format of rotation on listening, speaking, reading and writing activities, while G4 and G5 is based on bloom’s taxonomy and divides the activities into knowledge, comprehension, application, higher-order thinking. Each type will help students develop at least one input skill (listening or reading) and one output skill (speaking or writing).