Cumberland Times-News

Local News

August 3, 2013

Summer academy keeps Chinese immersion program students learning

Studies have focused on cultural understanding

CUMBERLAND — Many children who are taking part in the Chinese Partial Immersion Program offered at West Side Elementary School are keeping up with their Chinese studies by attending a summer academy.

A year-round program that began in 2012, Chinese immersion teaches kindergarten and first-grade students language and culture skills as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics all while using the Mandarin Chinese language.

“The kids in Chinese immersion are going in the summer to maintain their skills,” said Laura Miller, a media specialist at West Side and an aide for the summer academy.

 The summer program, known as the Chinese Summer Academy, focuses more on cultural understanding and less on the Chinese language.

During the school year, children in the program receive their course work in English and Chinese. During the Chinese portion, no English is spoken during class time.

According to David Cox, the Allegany County superintendent of schools, Chinese has been targeted by branches of the U.S. government as a dual-immersion program.

“I’ve been interested in second languages studies for a long time. Research shows that it helps kids learn better if they can process in two languages,” said Cox.

Cox and other educators from across the country were invited to the headquarters of the CIA in Langley, Va., and learned of the U.S. intelligence community’s need for Americans who are fluent in Chinese, Arabic, Farsi and Hindu.

“I’ve wanted to build a program. When the grant opportunity came, the time was right,” said Cox.

A federal grant is supplying the funding for the Chinese immersion program.

The summer session is being taught by native Chinese instructors Mandy Tang and Yanling Fan, along with West Side teachers Melanie DeMoss and Miller.

About 60 students attended the summer session. Parents enroll their children and then any unfilled openings are made available to siblings.

Tang, 25, who is from Hunan Province in southern China, obtained a master’s degree in education from Frostburg State University.

“When they say that kids of this age are the best for learning languages — it’s true,” said Tang.

Tang said the program helps children learn another culture and that there are different people in the world who eat different foods and have different holidays.

“It’s magical how these kids take it in. They are like little sponges,” said Miller, who has a daughter in the program.

Miller told a story of how a boy from the Chinese program was visiting Boston with his parents and they all went to a Chinese restaurant. The parents said the boy spoke to the wait staff in Chinese and continued talking until he used all his words.

Two children in the summer academy are Lila Hocheral and Ben Strozykowski, both age 6.

“At first it was scary,” said Hocheral, whose favorite words are “hua” which means flower, and “ni hao” for hello.

But she quickly learned to enjoy the class.

“It’s fun to say and it’s easy to learn about. The teachers make it easy,” said Hocheral.

Denia Hocheral, Lila’s mother, said she had been looking for something different for her children to add to their traditional learning experience.

“The thought of learning another language sparked my interest. Lila doesn’t want to miss a day of class. I think it can open doors for them,” said Denia. Denia also has another daughter, Ivy, in the program.

Strozykowski is already thinking of making a career of using the Chinese language.

“I want to go to China and teach them English,” said Strozykowski.

Strozykowski said he likes to count in Chinese.

“It can help you a lot. If you go to China, you can talk and not just use signs and stuff,” he said.

A closing ceremony for the summer academy was held Friday with children doing lion, dragon and peacock dances as well as singing Chinese songs and re-enacting the moon, dragon and lantern festivals.

Education officials hope that the program will continue to be available to students through grade five.

“I like the possibilities it offers our children,” said Cox.

Cox said that West Side Principal Molly Stewart and Dee Blank, the elementary supervisor for the board, have done a great job developing and running the Chinese program.

Greg Larry can be contacted at

Text Only
Local News
  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fourmile Ridge wind project approved, moves forward

    The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the Fourmile Ridge wind project in eastern Garrett County and site preparation started April 7, according to Frank Maisano, a wind industry spokesman. The current notice listed on the FAA website for the project is for a small change in turbine location.

    April 17, 2014

  • Oakland back to normal after toppled tanker closes business district

    The town of Oakland returned to normal activities Thursday, one day after a tanker full of liquid propane overturned in the heart of the business district.
    Shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday the toppled tanker was removed and its 10,000-gallon load transferred to another tanker.

    April 17, 2014

  • Students back Southern Middle School renovation

    Students from both Southern and Northern middle schools presented a list of reasons why Southern Middle needs to be renovated during the Garrett County Commission meeting Tuesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Trial run Trial run

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 72nd anniversary of Doolittle Raid on Tokyo 72nd anniversary of Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

    Friday, April 18, has another special meaning for me besides Good Friday.
    April 18, 1942, proved to be a pivotal day for American morale, following the deadly air attack and destruction conceived and executed by Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lara Courrier seeks re-appointment to Mineral school board

    I, Lara Courrier, am seeking re-election to the Mineral County Board of Education to continue the work I’ve done the last four years. Having served as a school counselor at the Burlington Center School and the Chick Buckbee Juvenile Center for nearly six years, as well as approximately 20 years total working with children, I have insight into the needs of kids and the importance of the actions of the school board. Having three sons and several nieces and nephews in Mineral County schools, I have an added incentive to continue to work hard to ensure the efficient running of our school system. 

    April 17, 2014

Must Read
News related video