International Crane Foundation


Chinese Language Students Bring Cranes Into the Classroom

Asia: China Program > What’s New > Chinese Language Students Bring Cranes Into the Classroom

ICF partners with teachers throughout the world to intoduce cranes to thousands of students each year. With the assistance of the ICF China Program, students in the Chinese language program at James Madison Memorial High School in Madison, Wisconsin are learning about cranes as they study their traditional grammar and vocabulary lessons. This innovative program was highlighted in the World Journal, the largest Chinese language newspaper in North America. Following is an English translation of the article:

Madison Memorial High School Students Make a Splash: Exhibit on US & China Crane Species

Reporter: Sunny Hsu, Madison, for the World Journal

Students from the advanced Chinese language class at James Madison Memorial High School, under the guidance of the International Crane Foundation, recently held an exhibit and oral presentation on their studies of cranes, covering such information as physical characteristics (height, weight, wing span, coloration), population, life span, eating habits, threats to survival and conservation efforts, migration, distribution and breeding. Their audience of native speakers (professors and family from UW-Madison) were greatly impressed.

Their teacher, Natasha Pierce, has taught Chinese at Memorial High for six years, and was formerly employed as a translator at the National Palace Museum in Taipei. The Chinese program has been in existence at Madison Memorial High for over twenty years (previous teachers Claire Kotenbeutel and Maureen Kind are now retired), and is the only Chinese language program in the Madison public schools. There are currently four classes, with students coming from a diversity of backgrounds, including Chinese Americans, Hmong, African Americans, Caucasians, India, Korea, Cambodia and Russia, among others.

While most students are not heritage learners or native speakers of Chinese, their performance of their oral presentations was flawless. Not only did they master a large amount of new vocabulary, they also gained deeper understanding of cranes, their habitat, and their preservation.

When asked their motivation for studying Chinese, students responded that with China’s large population and growing importance in the world economy, they feel there will be many career opportunities open to them if they master Chinese, and that Chinese language is becoming increasingly important in today’s world.

Ms. Pierce also employs other hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for her students, such as exchanging personal information and scientific/social data with pen pals in urban and rural China, learning games, performing shadow puppet plays, field trips, guest speakers, and trips to China in order to increase her students’ motivation to learn Chinese.

Image caption: Natasha Pierce, Chinese language teacher at James Madison Memorial High School (third from right) would like to thank the International Crane Foundation for their generous assistance, as well as her students for their diligence and passion, in making the culminating exhibit and presentation a success. Part of the exhibit can be seen behind the students.

 Chinese Language Students