USU partners with Taiwanese program for new summer Chinese immersion

Aug 3, 2022, 6:45 PM | Updated: Feb 14, 2023, 12:41 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A new exchange has brought Chinese culture and language to the Beehive State.

Utah State University has partnered with the National Chung Hsing University (NCHU) Language Center in Taiwan to provide Utah kids the opportunity to learn and practice Chinese in an immersive setting.

The program allows students who have attended the K-12 Chinese immersion program to maintain their language skills during the summer break.

Hannah Flake, Abby and Chloe Hickok, and Mia LaPlante have all been part of the Chinese immersion program for years — some have studied Mandarin Chinese for almost a decade.

“My mom is from Hong Kong, so I like learning about my heritage,” said Flake, who has studied Chinese for eight years.

For LaPlante, who has studied Chinese for many years, the opportunity has brought her perspective.

“The more languages you know, the more friends you have,” she said.

These young students, all under the age of 15, have had their view of the world changed through connecting to a different culture and community.

“Some of the things in Chinese culture are not really in American culture. So it’s cool to learn about it because you’re not going to find that if you just stick to one language,” said Abby Hickok, who has studied Chinese for seven years.

Learning another language has painted a different picture of their own.

“It’s great to be able to appreciate both sides of completely different languages,” LaPlante said.

Appreciation of culture, heritage and community is at the heart of what Peiru Chen hopes her students will learn.

“You will have more of a commitment to the culture,” Chen said.

Chen came from Taiwan to Utah for her husband’s schooling. Now, she’s teaching.

For the past three years, Chen has helped create the Chinese immersion curriculum with a company in Hong Kong.

This is the first year a summer immersion program has been offered and Chen hopes to extend this opportunity to other languages and cultures.

“If we have enough budget, we can do French, Spanish, or other languages,” she said.

For now, Chen immerses her students in culture with calligraphy and authentic Taiwanese cuisine — ultimately, hoping to draw connections across the world.

The summer program goes until the end of the first week of August.

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USU partners with Taiwanese program for new summer Chinese immersion