Founder of the Seal of Biliteracy Commends Tzu Chi Education After Visit

National Headquarters  |  March 30, 2024
Founder of Seal of Biliteracy, Arthur Chou, visits Tzu Chi Walnut Elementary School. Photo/Michelle Young

Written by Phil Huang
Translated by Jiali Liu, Andrew Larracuente
Edited by Ariel Chan

To bring Tzu Chi Education into the mainstream community in the United States through professional accreditation has been the longstanding goal of the Education Foundation for many years. On February 14th, Arthur Chou, founder of the Seal of Biliteracy in the United States, visited Tzu Chi Elementary School and Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool, in Walnut, CA, and expressed strong approval of Tzu Chi’s Chinese teaching achievements while anticipating further exchanges.

Mr. Zhou introduced the process of promoting bilingual education certification in the United States to the staff of Tzu Chi School.
Mr. Chou introduces the process of promoting bilingual education certification in the United States to the staff of Tzu Chi Walnut Elementary School. Photo/Michelle Young
Tzu Chi Humanities School in the United States applies bilingualism to life situations, and the student works displayed on the wall contain profound Chinese culture.
Tzu Chi Walnut Elementary School applies bilingualism in real-life contexts, with student artwork on display reflecting profound Chinese cultural elements. Photo/Michelle Young

Pioneer of Bilingual Education

Arthur Chou, hailing from Taiwan, has been promoting bilingual education across various states in the U.S. for over a decade. With the establishment of educational bills, public schools are now able to implement bilingual teaching through special programs. Chou stated, “The biggest challenge in establishing bilingual programs is resources and understanding the laws of each state. We usually collaborate with educational associations to secure funding for schools that have passed bilingual education certification, enabling them to establish bilingual schools.” As of 2023, under Chou’s advocacy, public schools with bilingual teaching programs are widespread across all 50 states of the U.S. and Washington, D.C.

Most immigrants in the U.S. are of Hispanic descent. As a Taiwanese individual, Chou’s comprehensive influence on the teaching policies of American public schools, ambitions, and hard work are deeply admirable.

Chou emphasized the motivation behind promoting bilingual education, stating, “Starting bilingual learning from a young age, where we learn from each other, helps mainstream society understand that we are equals, without class distinctions.” He hopes that American children can increase their empathy and respect for people of different cultures by learning a second language at a young age. This motivation aligns perfectly with Tzu Chi’s values of “purifying the mind and harmonizing society” through character education!

Tzu Chi Da Ai Primary School Chinese teacher Ye Tiantian combines art classes with Chinese courses. Among them, Peking Opera facial makeup is widely loved by Tzu Chi Primary School students.
Tzu Chi Elementary School Chinese teacher Tiantian Ye combines art classes with Chinese curriculum, and Peking opera masks curriculum is widely loved by students. Photo/Michelle Young
Lower primary school students began to practice Chinese calligraphy, and the children proudly displayed their calligraphy works.
Even students in the lower grades of elementary school begin practicing Chinese calligraphy, proudly showcasing their calligraphy works. Photo/Michelle Young

Diverse Learning

For over a decade, Tzu Chi Elementary School in the United States has been committed to bilingual education. In addition to emphasizing listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, bilingualism is integrated into everyday situations to allow students to naturally absorb Chinese knowledge. For instance, bilingual signage is used on restroom sinks, classroom bulletin boards, and wall clocks. Furthermore, the school innovatively organizes cultural activities regularly, seamlessly integrating Chinese teaching into them. The displayed Peking opera mask artworks on the walls are rich in profound Chinese cultural elements, enhancing the educational experience joyfully.

Tzu Chi Elementary School teacher Tiantian Ye enjoys combining art classes with Chinese courses, with Peking opera masks being a favorite among students. She explains, “The Peking opera masks on the wall are created by higher-grade students, who combine Marvel characters with Peking opera masks. Their creativity integrates both Chinese and Western cultures.” Recently, during the Chinese New Year celebration, Ye combined Peking opera masks with music, allowing students to perform on stage and thereby enhancing their Chinese proficiency.

By combining traditional culture with language learning, their Chinese proficiency can advance, and they can also immerse themselves in cultural learning, making this learning artistic and enjoyable.

In the fun and educational teaching environment at Tzu Chi, children have made significant progress in learning Chinese. Kindergarten students can fluently greet guests; elementary school students in the lower grades begin practicing Chinese calligraphy; and older students showcase the Chinese “number puzzle” and tell the story of “Journey to the West” to visitors.

First-grade student Weston Tracy from Tzu Chi Elementary School said, “My mom learned about Tzu Chi Elementary School through a friend’s recommendation. I enjoy learning Chinese here and have learned a lot of Pinyin and Chinese characters.”

Taylor Fang, who won first place in a calligraphy competition, said, “I love speaking and writing Chinese. My favorite festival is the New Year, where I can eat delicious dumplings, and my family gives me red pocket money.”

Tzu Chi school staff introduced Tzu Chi’s bilingual teaching materials to Mr. Zhou.
Tzu Chi school staff introducing Tzu Chi's bilingual teaching materials to Mr. Zhou. Photo/Michelle Young
Tzu Chi school staff introduced Tzu Chi’s bamboo tube culture and received praise and recognition from Mr. Zhou.
Tzu Chi school staff introducing Tzu Chi's bamboo bank culture, receiving praise and affirmation from Mr. Zhou. Photo/Michelle Young

Excitedly Assured for the Future

During his visit to Tzu Chi Elementary School, Chou repeatedly praised the quality of Chinese teaching at the school for surpassing the standards of the widely recognized bilingual certification. He encouraged the school to promote its bilingual teaching materials nationwide and believes that other schools would benefit from its Chinese teaching standards. He stated, “Having visited many schools, your Chinese teaching level is very high. I think other schools would be very envious, so I hope they can learn from how you do it.”

“We hope to promote Chinese education and Tzu Chi culture through fair and objective methods that everyone can recognize,” said Debbie Lee, CEO of the Tzu Chi Education Foundation. “By learning the language, the culture and spirit of China can be imparted to more people. Tzu Chi hopes to accumulate every step of its educational endeavors to make Chinese known and recognized by more people.”

Tzu Chi looks forward to jointly promoting bilingual education certification in the future, injecting the essence of Tzu Chi education into the hearts of children and parents in foreign lands, fostering outstanding character development, and paving the way for a broader future for children.

More News Stories