FAQ

Why study Chinese at NPMS?

North Peninsula Mandarin School http://www.npms.org  (NPMS) is a weekend Chinese school that teaches Mandarin Chinese language and promotes the study of Chinese culture for students living in Peninsula area. It has been a non-profit organization established in 1978 serving local residents and communities for almost 40 years. Every year, NPMS celebrates Chinese New Year through hosting Lantern Festival Events 元宵節活動。

NPMS tries to help to prepare students for SAT Chinese Subject tests https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat-subject-tests/subjects/languages/chinese-listening and AP Chinese exams http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/exam/exam_information/157009.html. NPMS is a member school of Association of Northern California Chinese School (ANCCS http://www.anccs.org/) which was also established in 1978. NPMS students are eligible to join many events sponsored by ANCCS to promote Chinese language and culture heritage for grade school, middle school and high school students in Northern California. Two former NPMS principals are former presidents of ANCCS.


How formal is NPMS?

NPMS is a formal school that offers classes from Pre-Kindergarten until 11th grade. A typical school year consists of 31 weeks with 2 hour and 30 min long class every Saturday morning. So if a student starts at Pre-Kindergarten grade and continues his/her study until graduation at the end of 11th grade, the student is expected to complete 1000 hours of Chinese language learning. In addition, there are 4th period classes for students to learn various Chinese culture based skills. Parents and students are expected to follow parents and students handbook which defines rigorous rules and policies at NPMS https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxucG1zMjAxNXxneDo3YjE2MGExNjdmYmNkN2Ez to ensure education quality of NPMS and facilitate school administration. NPMS is NOT a day care center. Students at NPMS are expected to learn and master Chinese language and culture which hopefully will benefit them throughout their lifetime.

Every year, NPMS offers academic contests in school and then having qualified students to represent NPMS to participate academic contests at ANCCS.


What are the 3 main Chinese learning phases at NPMS?

1.  Phase 1- grade school era: from Pre-Kindergarten until 5th grade, NPMS wants to establish solid foundation for grade school students to grasp essence of Chinese via rigorous learning, including but not limited to reading and writing Chinese characters, be fluent in at least one phonetic system to help Chinese pronunciation, reading aloud, telling story, speech, understanding Chinese character radical structure to use Chinese dictionary. At the end of 5th grade, students are expected to know how to type Chinese via recognition of many Chinese characters.

2.  Phase 2 – middle school era: from 6th grade until 8th grade, NPMS wants to continuously establish solid foundation for middle school students to master Chinese and its idioms. In addition students are expected to learn Chinese culture and history aligned with their regular middle school Chinese history curriculums. Every year, ANCCS holds Chinese culture contest with preparation material at http://www.reg.ncacls.net/index.php/archivefiles/category/23-ch2016. NPMS students are encouraged to participate.

3.  Phase 3- high school era: from 9th grade until 11th grade, NPMS recognizes high school students typically have high workload from their regular school activities. However, NPMS likes to help students to get enough practices and preparation for SAT and AP Chinese tests when students are willing to invest their Saturday morning time at NPMS. Ideally, students are able to learn another foreign language in their regular high school while completing Chinese learning at NPMS. There are students who concurrently enroll at NPMS and at their regular high school taking advanced Chinese language classes.

 

What Chinese text book does NPMS use?

NPMS uses “Mei Zhou Hua Yu” 美洲華語 Chinese Text book http://www.mzchinese.net/ which offers Chinese text book from level K to level 10. "Mei Zhou Hua Yu" Text book  is the text book that is approved by NPMS board many years ago and has been used as the main text book for teaching at NPMS for years. "Mei Zhou Hua Yu" Text book and home work help students to be at Chinese proficiency level based on SAT Chinese Subject Tests and AP Chinese Exams requirements. Students who have thoroughly completed “Mei Zhou Hua Yu” text book between 7th and 9th levels are expected to have Chinese level meeting SAT Chinese subject test requirements. Students who have thoroughly completed text book between 8th and 10th level are expected to have Chinese level meeting AP Chinese requirements. Please check "MeiZhouHuaYu"  summer homework samples with explaination of  SAT Chinese subject and AP Chinese requirements.  http://www.mzchinese.net/Services/HWK2016/HWK_B5-20160420-L1-WEB.pdf


What is the tangible benefit of studying Chinese at NPMS to prepare for College and beyond?

Compared with high school, grade school and middle school students tend to have less school workload and have more time to study many essential skills. Therefore, it is great timing for your children to study Chinese at NPMS from PK grade till 11th grade, in particular, the prime study time during grade and middle school years so that your children may establish a good foundation to help them to prepare for taking SAT Chinese Subject Tests and AP Chinese Tests. Foreign language requirements at College may be fulfilled by having sufficiently high score in SAT language Subject Test or AP language Test.

Please check Stanford University foreign language requirements as one example https://language.stanford.edu/academics/language-requirement.

Please check University of California foreign language requirements as another example. http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/counselors/freshman/minimum-requirements/subject-requirement/index.html#lang

Learning a foreign language and its culture is part of humanity and character building process. That is one of the reasons that college usually requires students to complete a foreign language as general education requirements.  There are merits, spirits and value, deeply inherited in Chinese culture https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%9B%9B%E7%BB%B4%E5%85%AB%E5%BE%B7

http://baike.baidu.com/item/%E5%9B%9B%E7%BB%B4%E5%85%AB%E5%BE%B7

All of which teach valuable life lessons for character building and enrichment.


How does NPMS teach 注音 zhuyin or 拼音 pinyin,正體字 (Traditional Chinese Characters) or 簡體字 (Simplified Chinese Characters)?

First of all, 注音 zhuyin and 拼音 pinyin are equivalent dual phonetic systems to help pronunciation of Chinese. Due to heritage nature of NPMS, NPMS PewK and K level teach注音 zhuyin first. Then NPMS teaches 拼音pinyin starting at 4th grade and it is highly recommended for students to master 拼音 pinyin to conveniently type Chinese. NPMS uses traditional Chinese character with zhuyin version of the MeiZhouHuaYu text book until 4th grade and then switches to use traditional Chinese character with pinyin version. It is easier to appreciate the origin of Chinese characters using traditional Chinese characters compared with simplified Chinese characters. 象形文字 Pictograms can only be proven through Traditional Chinese characters. However, students are also taught to recognize simplified Chinese characters at NPMS. It's easier to learn simplified Chinese character after learning traditional Chinese character. However, if it's the other way around, it's more difficult.  Regardless, there is no serious disadvantage to just learn one version of Chinese characters or one version of phonetic systems when taking SAT Chinese subject tests or AP Chinese exam.  This is because SAT Chinese Subject Tests questions are coded in 4 versions: 注音 zhuyin, 拼音 pinyin,正體字 Traditional Chinese, and 簡體字 Simplified Chinese, and AP Chinese exam questions are coded in both Traditional Chinese Characters and Simplified Chinese Characters.

 



Are there any differences between different classes for the same grade ?

To control proper class size, each grade may open two or three classes , each of which is taught by a different teacher. However, all teachers are supposed to use the same required text book (MeiZhouHuaYu) as the main teaching material. New students are usually randomly assigned to the class for the grade they are entering. From time to time, NPMS administration may use lottery system to decide which teacher teaches which class for the same grade. There is no special teacher preference rule when assigning students to the class.

Are there any awards for NPMS students?

NPMS may award $100 to students who meet the following qualifications.  Students who wish to receive this award must apply within a year after their graduation from NPMS.

Qualifications (both conditions must be satisfied and verified by NPMS administration)

1. Student has enrolled at NPMS for at least 6 years, completed 11th grade at NPMS and graduated from NPMS based on NPMS parent and student regulations. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxucG1zMjAxNXxneDo3YjE2MGExNjdmYmNkN2Ez

2. Student has received AP Chinese score of 5, or has received SAT Chinese subject test with score >=780. Must submit proof of scores.

 

What if my children need extra help as I am not native Chinese speakers?

Several current and former NPMS teachers are full time or part time Chinese language tutors. NPMS may be able to provide their contact information provided they let NPMS know that they are willing to accept new students. Furthermore, additional teaching assistance materials and text books can be purchased from MeiZhouHuaYu website http://www.mzchinese.org/. There are many Chinese learning resources that parents and students can locate to help. Furthermore, depending on enrollment, NPMS may hold CSL (Chinese as Second Language) class for those who have difficulties to stay in the regular class.

What about home schooling? I am a native Mandarin speaker and I can teach my children Mandarin myself

Yes. However, the experiences of learning Chinese with other students is different from just learning it at home. The peer interactions in a classroom environment help your children to learn Chinese while  establishing friendship with many classmates at NPMS from grade school time until possible high school time.



What can I do to help NPMS?

To keep Chinese education affordable to the community, other than teachers, everyone else is a volunteer at NPMS to help to run school. NPMS has elected board of directors who are primarily responsible for many school administration tasks and activities. NPMS has been run by many volunteers in the past over almost forty years. Though it is a volunteer job, severing for NPMS can be very challenging and overwhelming as well. However, it is also rewarding experiences as your volunteer efforts have benefited NPMS and all of its students, including your own children. In the General Parent Meeting held in April of every year, board of directors who have served 2 year terms are re-elected. If you are interested in joining the board to actually volunteer your time and efforts for NPMS, please email npms88@gmail.com.