第五屆亞洲盃 美國東南區亞特蘭大聯隊 資格賽 (Qualifier debate for SE US Atlanta Team)

It was an incredible journey for the Southeast US Atlanta Team.  Our team members have various Chinese proficiency levels.  Truly, one’s language proficiency (or lack of) affects the ability to listen, comprehend, organize, and express various parts of the debate.  Shawn Yen, our excellent and most devoted coach, was able to utilize the best qualities of each debater and put each in the best line-up position.  The team went through so much in the last few months and we are ecstatic over their accomplishment (one win, one tie, one loss). In addition, my DD#1 was voted as the Best Debater for our second debate and our second chair debater was voted as the Best Debater for the first debate. Go Team USA!


Chinese debate class update

So the Chinese debate class is moving along, now to the meat of proper debate rules.

Asia Debate will announce the debate topics toward the end of May.  Our team will get to know their assigned topics then.  At the mean time, the coach gave reading-aloud assignment from United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to build up their Chinese vocabulary and familiarize themselves with UN topics.  The website has simplified Chinese version, which I then copied and converted to traditional Chinese for my girls.  For their initial readings, I changed the font to one with zhuyin to make it easier for them, though alternative pronunciation would not be accounted for.  I sometimes find the translation less than optimal.

Here is what they have to read for Goal 4 on Quality Education:

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.  目標4:確保包容和公平的優質教育,讓全民終身享有學習機會

Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to creating sustainable development. In addition to improving quality of life, access to inclusive education can help equip locals with the tools required to develop innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems. 


Over 265 million children are currently out of school and 22% of them are of primary school age. Additionally, even the children who are attending schools are lacking basic skills in reading and math. In the past decade, major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrollment rates in schools particularly for women and girls. Basic literacy skills have improved tremendously, yet bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals. For example, the world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys, but few countries have achieved that target at all levels of education.


The reasons for lack of quality education are due to lack of adequately trained teachers, poor conditions of schools and equity issues related to opportunities provided to rural children. For quality education to be provided to the children of impoverished families, investment is needed in educational scholarships, teacher training workshops, school building and improvement of water and electricity access to schools.



Facts and Figures 事實與數據

  • Enrollment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent but 57 million primary age children remain out of school.  發展中國家的初等教育入學率達到了91%,但仍有5700萬兒童失學。
  • More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa.  未入學的兒童中,超過半數生活在撒哈拉以南非洲。
  • An estimated 50 per cent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.  據估計,50%的小學適齡失學兒童生活在受衝突影響的地區。
  • 617 million youth worldwide lack basic mathematics and literacy skills.  全球有6.17億名青少年缺乏基本的數學和識字技能。


Goal 4 targets 目標4的具體目標

4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.  到2030年,確保所有男女童完成免費、公平和優質的中小學教育,並取得相關和有效的學習成果。

4.2 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.  到2030年,確保所有男女童獲得優質幼兒發展、看護和學前教育,為他們接受初級教育做好準備。

4.3 By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.  到2030年,確保所有男女平等獲得負擔得起的優質技術、職業和高等教育,包括大學教育。

4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.  到2030年,大幅增加掌握就業、體面工作和創業所需相關技能,包括技術性和職業性技能的青年和成年人數。

4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.  到2030年,消除教育中的性別差距,確保殘疾人、土著居民和處境脆弱兒童等弱勢群體平等獲得各級教育和職業培訓。

4.6 By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.  到2030年,確保所有青年和大部分成年男女具有識字和計算能力。

4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.  到2030年,確保所有進行學習的人都掌握可持續發展所需的知識和技能,具體做法包括開展可持續發展、可持續生活方式、人權和性別平等方面的教育、弘揚和平和非暴力文化、提升全球公民意識,以及肯定文化多樣性和文化對可持續發展的貢獻。

4.A Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.  建立和改善兼顧兒童、殘疾和性別平等的教育設施,為所有人提供安全、非暴力、包容和有效的學習環境。

4.B By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries.  到2020年,在全球範圍內大幅增加發達國家和部分發展中國家為發展中國家,特別是最不發達國家、小島嶼發展中國家和非洲國家提供的高等教育獎學金數量,包括職業培訓和信息通信技術、技術、工程、科學項目的獎學金。

4.C By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.  到2030年,大幅增加合格教師人數,具體做法包括在發展中國家,特別是最不發達國家和小島嶼發展中國家開展師資培訓方面的國際合作。

Changing direction – social studies textbook

DD#2, “Georgia”, almost 13 now, is finishing up reading aloud to fluency the first semester Chinese Language Art (CLA) textbook from Taiwan. My original plan was to move onto six grade second semester textbook, which would be the natural progression. But, now that she recently joined the newly organized Chinese debate team, I am changing our plan.

Debate Asia, the organization that runs the Chinese debate competition, frequently uses as debate topics subjects that are of concern to the United Nation. There are, therefore, much use of social studies terminology and language, in Chinese of course.  Regular CLA textbooks would not be efficient in providing such subject languages exposure. 

The following two pictures are from a 7th grade second semester CLA textbook that I prepared for my DDs before. 



Compare the above with the following images from an 8th grade second semester social studies textbook.




As you can clearly see, the social studies textbook provides excellent and efficient exposure to relevant Chinese terminology and language.  It is also fitting that these materials overlap with Georgia’s English based social studies course material at school, which makes learning via scaffold reading experience (SRE) possible.

Yes, it is more boring to read these social studies textbook aloud, but I hope she can appreciate the language knowledge soon, when her debate competition gets closer and closer.  We will see how it goes!

(There are videos online which go over much of materials presented in the textbook, but some narrators kind of just read the slide content off the screen, which is boring.  Their pronunciation could be “better” also.)

Chinese Debate Team

Five students, including my two daughters, signed up for the junior team (16 years of age and below) at this point, with several other potential candidates.  They started training last weekend.  The coach is a Chinese-English bilingual debate instructor educated and trained in debate competition in Taiwan throughout his high school and college years.  He coaches secondary school English debate team here in his spare time and got his team to second place in this year’s debate competition at Harvard.

This is the first year that an American team competes in this Chinese debate competition in Asia.  Certainly, with only a couple of months of training till summer competition in Taipei and with obvious disadvantages, the goal this year is to gain exposure and experience with eyes toward the following years.

Below are two YouTube videos showing the teams which competed last year and one of the actual debate in Hong Kong.

Here are a few photos and a video of our team’s first training session.


Fewer posts

One reader noted that I don’t blog as much about my DD’s Chinese learning journey these days.  That is absolutely true. There is simply less to blog about these days, as we are mostly in late consolidation to maintenance phase.  For me, most of the work for Chinese learning before they finish high school would have been done toward the end of middle school.

DD#1 “Charlotte”, almost 16, is finishing up 10th grade.  She has already switched track and commit most of her effort and time to academic and extracurricular activities with emphasis on future college application.  She attends a competitive high school and it is harder to stand out these days.  I have her do just a little maintenance type of Chinese reading to keep up her proficiency.  We continue to converse in Chinese at home, though I do have to correct her often as our conversation topics and depth increase further.  We spend maybe 15-20 minutes a day watching a Chinese high school teen soap 「致我们单纯的小美好」or “A Love So Beautiful.  She loves the show but cringes at the awkward teen puppy love interactions, LOL.

Charlotte does attend a Saturday simplified Chinese “AP” class a couple of times a month just to maintain some exposure to AP Chinese topics.  There are only two to three students in the class, one of whom is my DD#2.  That class provides more of an exposure to the Chinese AP topics rather than being a test preparation course.  It is unfortunate that her high school doesn’t have Chinese AP class.  However, since my goal has never been about test taking and has always been about actually knowing and using Chinese as a communication tool, I am not sweating it and would rather that she commits her time to other areas.  For more formal instruction, I recently resumed having her read aloud select piece in CLA textbook about 10-15 minutes a day several days a week, picking up where we left off almost two years ago in 6th grade CLA textbooks.  That’s all the time she can commit to Chinese these days.  But we hope to move onto junior high level textbooks soon.

The good news is that she has just been recruited to join a brand-new southeast regional Chinese debate team that will compete in Taiwan with teams across Asia at the end of the summer.  This is a wonderful opportunity to hone in her Chinese colloquial proficiency, as I have been seeking out extracurricular activities that require much actual Chinese usage.  Since there are few such activities for teens, we often have to come up with our own, such as our band.  To receive coaching in Chinese for debate conducted in Chinese is like a dream-comes-true.  So, hopefully the whole things goes smoothly.

As for my almost 13 years old DD#2 “Georgia”, we continue to do Chinese read aloud exercises 5 days a week as mentioned in recent blog entries.  She is using 6th grade textbook also, moving at a faster pace than “Charlotte” three years back.  She attends the same casual Saturday “AP” Chinese classes every week, which I plan for her to repeat next year to improve her familiarity with simplified Chinese and get really acquainted with the material.  She watches about 30 minutes of Chinese drama 後宮甄嬛傳 with me at night, which she loves.

“Georgia” is also finishing up reading the third book (out of four) of 神雕俠侶 kungfu novel.  I recently printed the remainder of the novel out with zhuyin included, since her comprehension and reading speed do go up with them.  I plan to have her finish reading this novel with zhuyin assistance and then try another 金庸‘s kungfu novel without zhuyin.  She doesn’t particularly enjoy reading Chinese kungfu novel (but loves watching such TV shows) and that’s why it has been taking this long.  Maybe I should have her pick out the next novel herself.

“Georgia” was also recruited to try out the Chinese debate team as well.  She took three semesters of English debate classes before; so, this will be an excellent opportunity for her as well.  In terms of her English, she is doing extra reading comprehension exercises to “close the gap” further.  She is in accelerated ELA class one grade level higher at school, but can still work on her English more.  She is not one of those “brilliant” kids who are two-three years (or more) ahead in multiple subjects.  My best guess is that such “brilliant” kids probably have IQ (in the general sense) of around 150  (~1 in 2,000 people) or higher.

In terms of our band, we performed four times in February and are taking a little break.  We plan to work on one popular Cantonese and one Taiwanese song in the coming months.

Overall, IMHO, how well a child handles Chinese-English bilingual education in the tween to teen years, even with favorable Chinese Language Ecosystem (CLE), depends much on the individual’s general intellect, given high level competition for top college spots these days.  Most children likely need to divert attention away from Chinese learning to participate in the college application rat race.  So, it is ever more important that the majority of a solid Chinese instruction and foundation be laid down by the end of middle school.

翠玉白菜 (Jadeite Cabbage) – expository writing

About 5 weeks out from when DD#2, “Georgia”, started working on a 6th grade Chinese Language Art textbook (first semester) from Taiwan, she is right on track, at a pace of one chapter a week.  She just finished reading to fluency chapter 5.  It is on 翠玉白菜 or Jadeite Cabbage, a piece of jadeite carved into the shape of a Chinese cabbage head with insects on the leaves.  It is a prized piece at the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

This is a tougher piece for her to read aloud, given it is an expository and descriptive writing, with more difficult expressions and wording.  I think she’s got it down pretty good after working on it for about an hour and half, spread over five days or so.


第五課  翠玉白菜







第五课  翠玉白菜






Six grade textbook

Sixth grade Chinese Language Art textbook from Taiwan is indeed a step tougher than that of fifth grade.  It takes DD#2 a bit longer to read till fluency.

第三課 大自然的規則