Happy New Year! 新年快乐！Feliz año Nuevo! С новым годом! I can pretty much the first three languages, but the last I had a little help from my Russian friend =). Passionate about education, I often browse the Web for interesting articles, columns, stories, or pretty much anything that inspires me. I normally find and read things in English, but amazingly enough, I came across a fascinating blog (in Russian) about a mother’s thoughts and ideas on teaching the Chinese language to her son. To view her blog, click here. In her blog, she uses the My First Chinese Words ( 快乐幼儿华语) storybooks to illustrate how a parent or teacher can be creative in his/her method of instruction by designing games, songs, role-playing activities, and animations to engage children in the process of learning a second language. My favorite is the “family riding a train” idea – she gives her son blocks so that he can build a train and then has him recite the character names. When he says “Mom” (妈妈), he can then put 妈妈on the seat of a train. He says “Dad” （爸爸）and then puts 爸爸on the train. This is such a clever idea! Kids love trains, cars, airplanes . . .you hear them running around saying “choo choo” as they pretend to be conductors. By connecting the things that children love or care about to subject matter that is being taught, we can better motivate and encourage students to learn. As educators, I find it is truly invaluable to take the opportunity to find what students are passionate about and refresh the connection between their interests and the content learned. I encourage all of you to share your ideas, thoughts, and stories about Mandarin education. You can write in any language you desire, as long as you don’t hide your wonderful ideas from us =)!