Beijing, China
Beijing, China

Time filter

Source Type

News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.PR.com

Jurong East, Singapore, February 27, 2017 --( Currently, there are about 30 Alumni representatives from Harvard University, Beijing University, University of Chicago, Tsinghua University, and National University of Singapore business administration faculty etc have confirmed their participation. And the commitee has also invited 30 entrepreneur representatives from China to join this event. This will definitely enlighten the event. Last year, the representative from Shanghai Maritime University was the champion of the 1st Scholar Cup Golf Challenge that carried out on 19 May 2016. Will your team be the champion of this year? Join them now. Check out the details of this event below:- Date: 11 April 2017 Venue: Orchid Country Club, Singapore Registration Fee: $230 per person (include golfing fee, lunch, dinner, gift, prize) Scoring Rules: 118 holes individual tournament. Team (minimum 4 people, maximum 8 people, join both team and individual tournaments simultaneously) or representative (minimum 4 people, only join individual tournament) can participate. Team tournament will base on team golf scores for first 4 places to decide team ranking for the prize; individual tournament will base on an individual score to decide on the ranking. To register, please contact Dr. Tian Jing, Chief Secretary of Scholar Cup golf Challenge Committee at 0065-9029 5968, or email him at tianjing@pmail.ntu.edu.sg Jurong East, Singapore, February 27, 2017 --( PR.com )-- The 2nd Scholar Cup Golf Challenge will be held on 11 April 2017. The objective of this golf challenge is to create an exchange platform for the alumni of the international tertiary institution to expand their network and to develop their careers and businesses.Currently, there are about 30 Alumni representatives from Harvard University, Beijing University, University of Chicago, Tsinghua University, and National University of Singapore business administration faculty etc have confirmed their participation. And the commitee has also invited 30 entrepreneur representatives from China to join this event. This will definitely enlighten the event.Last year, the representative from Shanghai Maritime University was the champion of the 1st Scholar Cup Golf Challenge that carried out on 19 May 2016. Will your team be the champion of this year? Join them now.Check out the details of this event below:-Date: 11 April 2017Venue: Orchid Country Club, SingaporeRegistration Fee: $230 per person (include golfing fee, lunch, dinner, gift, prize)Scoring Rules: 118 holes individual tournament. Team (minimum 4 people, maximum 8 people, join both team and individual tournaments simultaneously) or representative (minimum 4 people, only join individual tournament) can participate. Team tournament will base on team golf scores for first 4 places to decide team ranking for the prize; individual tournament will base on an individual score to decide on the ranking.To register, please contact Dr. Tian Jing, Chief Secretary of Scholar Cup golf Challenge Committee at 0065-9029 5968, or email him at tianjing@pmail.ntu.edu.sg Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from Scholar Cup Golf Challenge Committee


News Article | February 26, 2017
Site: www.prlog.org

30 Alumni representatives from Harvard University, Beijing University, University of Chicago, Tsinghua University, and National University of Singapore business administration faculty etc have confirmed their participation.


News Article | November 16, 2016
Site: en.prnasia.com

SHANGHAI, Nov 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Ctrip.com International, Ltd. (Nasdaq: CTRP) ("Ctrip" or the "Company"), a leading travel service provider of hotel accommodations, transportation ticketing, packaged tours and corporate travel management in China, today announced that its board of directors has appointed Ms. Jane Jie Sun as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of the Company, effective immediately. Mr. James Jianzhang Liang, Ctrip's Chairman and former Chief Executive Officer, will serve as Executive Chairman of the board with specific focus on Ctrip's strategies and initiatives relating to innovations, international expansion, information technology, and investments and strategic alliances. Ms. Sun has served at several senior executive positions at Ctrip since 2005. She was Ctrip's Chief Operating Officer since May 2012 and Co-President since March 2015, and Chief Financial Officer from 2005 to 2012. Ms. Sun is well respected for her extensive experiences in operating and managing online travel businesses, mergers and acquisitions, and financial reporting and operations. During her tenure as Ctrip's Chief Financial Officer, she won the Best CFO Award by Institutional Investor and Best CFO Award by CFO World. Prior to joining Ctrip, Ms. Sun worked as the head of the SEC and External Reporting Division of Applied Materials, Inc. since 1997. Prior to that, she worked with KPMG LLP as an audit manager in Silicon Valley, California for five years. She is a member of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and State of California Certified Public Accountant. Ms. Sun received her bachelor's degree from the business school of the University of Florida with high honors. She also attended Beijing University Law School and obtained her LLM degree. Commenting on Ms. Sun's promotion, Mr. Liang said, "Jane and I have been working together for eleven years. She has played a critical role in defining the Company's strategic directions, managing business operations, making strategic investments and acquisitions, creating the current corporate structure, and cultivating new generation of talented business leaders. She also processes a unique leadership style and great personal characteristics. I have complete faith in Jane taking on the CEO role. We will work together, along with the rest of the team, to bring Ctrip to the next level." "I would like to thank the board for the confidence and trust in me," said Ms. Sun, "I would also like to thank James for what he has accomplished: leading Ctrip to overcome various challenges to where we are today and laying the foundation for our future growth. I had the honor to work alongside with James during this period. Going forward, James and I will continue to work together to drive Ctrip to new heights. I am very excited about Ctrip's future and will work hard with the board, management team and rest of the Company to grow it into the most innovative and valuable OTA in the world!" This announcement contains forward-looking statements. These statements are made under the "safe harbor" provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as "may," "will," "expect," "anticipate," "future," "intend," "plan," "believe," "estimate," "is/are likely to," "confident" or other similar statements. Ctrip may also make written or oral forward-looking statements in its periodic reports to the SEC, in its annual report to shareholders, in press releases and other written materials and in oral statements made by its officers, directors or employees to third parties. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. A number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement. Potential risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, severe or prolonged downturn in the global or Chinese economy, general declines or disruptions in the travel industry, volatility in the trading price of Ctrip's ADSs, Ctrip's reliance on its relationships and contractual arrangements with travel suppliers and strategic alliances, failure to further increase Ctrip's brand recognition to obtain new business partners and consumers, failure to compete against new and existing competitors, failure to successfully manage current growth and potential future growth, risks associated with any strategic investments or acquisitions, seasonality in the travel industry in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, failure to successfully develop Ctrip's corporate travel business, damage to or failure of Ctrip's infrastructure and technology, loss of services of Ctrip's key executives, adverse changes in economic and political policies of the PRC government, inflation in China, risks and uncertainties associated with PRC laws and regulations with respect to the ownership structure of Ctrip's affiliated Chinese entities and the contractual arrangements among Ctrip, its affiliated Chinese entities and their shareholders, and other risks outlined in Ctrip's filings with the SEC, including its annual report on Form 20-F and other filings. All information provided in this press release and in the attachments is as of the date of the issuance, and Ctrip does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement, except as required under applicable law. Ctrip.com International, Ltd. is a leading travel service provider of accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, packaged tours and corporate travel management in China. It is the largest online consolidator of accommodations and transportation tickets in China in terms of transaction volume. Ctrip enables business and leisure travelers to make informed and cost-effective bookings by aggregating comprehensive travel related information and offering its services through an advanced transaction and service platform consisting of its mobile apps, Internet websites and centralized, toll-free, 24-hour customer service center. Ctrip also helps customers book vacation packages and guided tours. In addition, through its corporate travel management services, Ctrip helps corporate clients effectively manage their travel requirements. Since its inception in 1999, Ctrip has experienced substantial growth and become one of the best-known travel brands in China. For further information, please contact: To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ctrip-announces-ms-jane-jie-sun-as-new-ceo-and-director-300364018.html


News Article | December 14, 2016
Site: www.businesswire.com

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ayla Networks, a global Internet of Things (IoT) platform for manufacturers, has named experienced executives to two newly created positions. Tom Clark is chief financial officer (CFO) and Jessica Zhou is general counsel for the fast-growing IoT industry-leading company. “Adding Tom and Jessica to our executive staff signals another phase of growth for Ayla as a company,” said David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks. “Attracting two such experienced and high-quality individuals to fill the important CFO and General Counsel positions will help further enhance Ayla’s global IoT market leadership.” In more than 20 years as a financial executive, Tom Clark has successfully steered the financial strategies of companies across a variety of industries. Prior to joining Ayla, he was CFO at Openwave Messaging Inc., the market leader in white-label email solutions. Clark orchestrated financial strategies that increased profitability by $30 million in less than 18 months and negotiated the sale of Openwave to Synchronos Technologies. Before Openwave, he was director of finance operations for Marlin Equity Partners, a private equity firm, where he focused on acquiring enterprise software companies and managing a portfolio of Marlin-owned companies. Earlier, he served as CFO and managed the worldwide finance operations of CollabNet, a leading provider of enterprise cloud development and agile application life management (ALM) products and services. Before CollabNet, he worked for seven years at ProBusiness Services, now Automatic Data Processing (NYSE:ADP), where he was instrumental in identifying new market opportunities to accelerate top-line financial growth. Clark began his career with KPMG LLP, a leading U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in California, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration, with an emphasis in accounting, from Saint Mary’s College of California. Jessica Zhou brings to Ayla more than 15 years of experience in legal counsel, compliance and helping fast-growing technology companies scale and expand internationally. Prior to joining Ayla, she was general counsel of Weebly Inc., a global SaaS company and leading platform for website creation and management, e-commerce, integrated marketing and data analytics. While there, she drove the company’s worldwide legal and compliance strategy, grew the intellectual property (IP) portfolio, defined the government and regulatory practice, and helped the company expand into new markets. Before that, Jessica served as general counsel and chief compliance officer for Canadian Solar Inc. (Nasdaq:CSIQ), one of the world’s largest solar companies, and for Ubiquiti Networks Inc. (Nasdaq:UBNT), a leader in wireless networking and telecommunications. At Canadian Solar, she helped the company successfully scale its worldwide operations, establish multiple new international subsidiaries, raise capital in excess of $500 million from public capital markets, and grow the company’s revenue from $600 million to over $2 billion during her tenure. Earlier in her career, Jessica was an attorney at Latham & Watkins LLP, a leading global law firm. She has done a significant number of mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings (IPOs), follow-on offerings and other capital markets transactions, advised public companies in corporate governance and SEC reporting, and represented private companies in venture financings and matters relating to their operations. Jessica received her JD degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School and bachelor’s degree from Beijing University. Ayla Networks empowers leading manufacturers by simplifying the inherent complexity of the Internet of Things (IoT), enabling them to turn their products into smart connected systems and transform their businesses to compete in the game-changing world of connectivity. Delivered as a cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Ayla’s IoT platform provides the flexibility and modularity to enable rapid changes to practically any type of device, cloud or app environment. Ayla Networks was named a 2015 Cool Vendor in the Internet of Things by Gartner, Inc. Ayla’s investors include Cisco Investments, the International Finance Corporation, Mitsui, SAIF Partners, Crosslink Capital, Voyager Capital, Ants Capital, 3NOD, Linear Venture, SJF Ventures and Acorn Pacific Ventures. For more information, visit www.aylanetworks.com.


News Article | November 30, 2016
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

How often do you stare blankly into someone's face and think "why don't I know who this is?,” as the other person smiles widely and goes in for a familiar hug. You desperately search your brain. From work? Through friends? Tinder? You want to avoid the awkwardness, but your brain still has no clue who this is. Such moments seem to be part of daily life for me. You see, I'm as close to being a prosopagnosic as you can get, without actually being one. Prosopagnosia is the inability to recognize faces, also referred to as face-blindness. Other people who have said they suffer from prosopagnosia include Oliver Sacks and Brad Pitt. But there are also some rather enviable people who experience the opposite. They are the super-recognizers. In 2009, psychological scientist Richard Russell and his colleagues first used the term super-recognizer to describe four participants in a study they conducted. According to the conclusions of the study, “our findings demonstrate the existence of people with exceptionally good face recognition ability and show that the range of face recognition and face perception ability is wider than has been previously acknowledged.” More recently, Dr. Josh P Davis, a reader in applied psychology at the University of Greenwich in London, is advancing this work. I talked to Davis to find out more about this fascinating field of research. He is, by chance, also one of the most recognizable people I have ever met (a video about him and his work). According to Davis, approximately 1% of us may be super-recognizers. That friend who recognizes actors across shows? Or the friend who always recognizes old friends after many years? Yup, they might have this memory superpower. Davis’ team has already identified well over 1000 super-recognizers from around the world. But how do you know whether you are one of these gifted face rememberers? According to Davis “One of the problems is diagnosing super-recognition. Currently researchers have tended to use two main criteria. First, excellent performance on short term face memory tests using photos. Second, extraordinary subjective experiences of real person recognition.” However, it can be difficult to know from lab-based tests how good a particular person is at real-life face remembering, he concedes. On top of this there seems to be another problem; Most people who think they are super-recognizers are not, and most people who are super-recognizers don’t know it. And for those who have the superpower, it reportedly can seem like more of a problem than a gift. Bona fide super-recognizers often claim that they need to hide their skill to not seem creepy. Imagine having someone come up to you, saying they recognize you from a coffee shop you visited once, in May, five years ago. Stalker, much? Exactly. Why do some people easily recognize faces while others frequently make mistakes? According to a team of cognitive neuroscientists from Beijing University, it has little to do with things like intelligence or attention, and more to do with how your brain processes faces. The team, including Ruosi Wang and colleagues, published a study in 2012 which found that individuals who process faces more as a whole (“holistically”), rather than in pieces (“analytically”), are better at remembering them. In other words, if you try to remember how someone’s nose, eyes, and ears look, it will be more difficult than taking in the whole face at once. Taking in things at once apparently means the brain registers it as a new object, rather than another nose, and another pair of eyes. However, the study by Wang and colleagues did not look specifically at super-recognizers, so it is unclear how much this explanation can help us understand the particularly gifted. Davis has looked directly at the brain function of super-recognizers, “some have been tested in our laboratories using EEG and we have found that when make decisions to faces they exhibit different brain activity to controls possessing average-range ability,” but how this difference is relevant to their brain processing is yet unclear. Davis says that “although super-recognizers all have excellent face memory, they do not necessarily display a consistent pattern of results on different types of cognitive test. They may be a heterogeneous group – not members of a single category. Our research is providing further insight into their capabilities.” On the downside this ability can make for creepy small talk, but on the upside this super-power can make for super-police. “My team started testing super-recognizers in the Metropolitan Police just before the London Riots in 2011,” says Davis. He says that super-recognizers “can sometimes recognize suspects in disguise, in poor quality images and they do this after a surprisingly long delay. London super-recognizer police officers have identified thousands of suspects, with high proportions eventually convicted (although based on more than just identification evidence). If police forces worldwide identified their own super-recognizers, it is likely that similar successes would follow. What’s next for the team? “One of our current lab-based studies is examining the ability of police super-recognizers and controls to identify people in crowded CCTV footage.” Increasing the complexity and realism of the tasks participants are asked to do in his studies, helps him fine-tune how to make this research most useful. Overall, he claims that “there is no doubt in my mind that this research can have a direct positive impact on homeland security, border control and policing.” Want to know whether you are a super-recognizer? Over 2.9 million members of the public have taken Davis’ could you be a super-recognizer online test. A few were even based in Antarctica. Maybe you’ll find that you belong to this elite group of super-humans. Or maybe, like me, you will remain part of the I-always-forget-people’s-faces-and-it’s-so-awkward group.


The Civitas investor relations team has helped thousands of investors and institutions from more than 30 countries around the world invest capital in the United States DALLAS, TX--(Marketwired - February 14, 2017) - Civitas Capital Group is pleased to announce the promotion and hiring of four key investor relations executives. "We're delighted to recognize and reward Irene and Manuel for their contributions, and are pleased to welcome Olof and Claudia to our company," said Chief Executive Officer Daniel J. Healy. "We have a remarkable investor relations team with diverse cultural experience and thorough knowledge of the investment management industry. I believe we are well-positioned for the future." Irene Shen was promoted to Director, Sales and Investor Relations. In her new role, Ms. Shen is responsible for expanding Civitas' presence in the alternative investment space in Asia, as well as coordinating the development of new products in the region. Ms. Shen has been with Civitas since August 2011. Ms. Shen received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Beijing University of Posts & Telecommunications. In addition, she is an Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS), and holds FINRA series 7, 63 and 65 securities and investment advisory licenses. Manuel Ortiz was promoted to Head of EB-5 Sales and Investor Relations. In his new role, Mr. Ortiz is responsible for developing and managing global investor relations, and overseeing the EB-5 Capital Division investor relations team. Mr. Ortiz has been with Civitas since January 2013. Mr. Ortiz received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, Red McCombs School of Business, and an MBA from Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business. Olof Akesson joined Civitas as Managing Director, Sales and Investor Relations. His responsibilities include overseeing and developing the Civitas client relations team, including investor communications. Mr. Akesson previously was Chief Operating Officer for Asia Institutional Sales at HSBC, overseeing all global markets products. Mr. Akesson received degrees in Finance and Management from the University of South Carolina, and a Master's in Finance from the Stockholm School of Economics. He also played tennis on the ATP World Tour. Claudia Betancourt joined Civitas as Director, Capital Markets. Her responsibilities include expanding Civitas' presence in the alternative investment products space outside of Asia, as well as coordinating the development of new products for individuals, family offices, and institutions. Previously, Ms. Betancourt was Managing Director at Commerce Street Capital (CSC), an investment banking firm. Ms. Betancourt received a B.S. in Economics from Universidad Catolica Boliviana, a M.B.A. from The University of Oklahoma, and a Masters of Science in Petroleum Economics and Management from the Institute Francaise du Petrole. The Civitas Capital Group family of companies provides compelling EB-5 capital and alternative investment strategies to institutional investors, family offices and qualified individuals. The Civitas Capital Group family of companies provides a range of products and services for institutional investors, family offices and qualified individuals. The firm offers compelling, niche investment strategies in U.S. lodging and real estate markets through its Alternative Investments and EB-5 Capital divisions. For more information about Civitas, please visit www.civitascapital.com or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CivitasCG. This press release does not constitute an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security in any jurisdiction in which such offer or solicitation is not authorized or to any person to whom it would be unlawful to make such offer or solicitation. Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/2/14/11G130279/Images/Iren_Shen-7fcea4e3a651ac0f8971900b7aab9130.jpg Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/2/14/11G130279/Images/Manuel_Ortiz-273763df068d87deaf2c4e715a165999.jpg Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/2/14/11G130279/Images/Olof_Akesson-6d400dc0ba53bb6c8b3e6122a71b45d2.jpg Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/2/14/11G130279/Images/Claudia-20e990c87854bb489b7cc10a4c4a3936.jpg


News Article | December 21, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Jan Tian stood in nervous silence in the departure hall of Beijing Capital International Airport. Beside him, his sister held an envelope containing a thousand yuan, close to her entire year’s wages. It was May 1993 and China’s capital was humid, its parks ablaze with tulips, crab apples and red azaleas. But Tian, who had graduated from Beijing University a decade earlier and now worked in Vancouver for the video game company Electronic Arts, had not come to sightsee. The previous week, he had received a phone call to say that his father had suffered a stroke and Tian’s bosses had booked him an emergency flight to China. After a week, the doctors had given their prognosis: Tian’s father would be paralysed down his left side, but would recover. As concern yielded to relief, Tian’s thoughts returned to the work he had left behind in Canada. The release date for EA Soccer, his current project, had recently been brought forward, after an executive walked past an office and heard staff, who were playing an early version of the game, whooping with excitement. For the game to be on shelves by Christmas, it would need to be finished by October. They had less than five months. While Tian and his dozen-or-so colleagues believed fervently in the project, EA’s other executives were less enamoured. “There was great scepticism in the US about the future of soccer,” Trip Hawkins, the computer programmer who had founded EA in 1982, told me. “Nobody cared.” Soccer was still seen by many as a benign distraction for children who showed little talent for American football, the sport on which EA’s early fortunes had been founded. Fifa International Soccer, as the game would eventually be titled, was a modest bet, costing around $30,000 a month to develop. (Fifa 2016’s development budget, by contrast, is estimated to have been in the region of $350m.) Even so, Tian and his colleagues feared the game might be cancelled at any moment. Speaking to an industry magazine in 2013, Neil Thewarapperuma, then EA Sports’ marketing manager, put it bluntly: “EA didn’t give a shit about Fifa.” The game was broken, too. Before he was called to China, Tian had been wrestling with a knotty programming challenge: how to automatically position players around the pitch in a way that resembled professional football, rather than a playground kickaround where children swarm after the ball. “People may say, what’s so difficult with positioning?” Tian told me recently. “Believe it or not, it’s the most difficult task to program correctly.” While he was at his father’s bedside, a solution – involving “tricky methods and algorithms”, as Tian puts it today – finally came to him. Now, he just needed to find a way to get back to Vancouver quickly, but when he checked, every flight out of Beijing was fully booked. At the airport the next day, a man from the airline approached, wearing a dark blue suit. He took the envelope from Tian’s sister and motioned to the pair to follow him to the ticket office. There, they stood a little distance away, while the man leaned over the counter conspiratorially, and whispered to a colleague. After a moment, Tian was handed a plane ticket. The bribe had worked. Ten hours later, on a Saturday afternoon, Tian landed in Vancouver. He dropped his bags off at home, washed his face, then drove to the office in a jetlagged fug. The system that Tian implemented over the following weeks to fix the game’s problems with positioning laid the foundations for what would become the world’s most profitable video game franchise. Along with Mario and Tetris, Fifa belongs to an select group of video games that are familiar to people who have little further interest in the medium. For many, Fifa is the only game they buy each year. In many parts of the world, the word “Fifa” is synonymous not with football’s scandal-ridden governing body, but with the video game that licenses its name. On any given Sunday, the day on which it is played most often, more than 200 million matches of Fifa take place in living rooms, studies and bedrooms around the world. The series has sold more than 150m copies, its popularity extending far beyond the world of football. In 2013, the NBA star LeBron James, who features in numerous EA-made basketball games, posted a photograph to Instagram of his sons playing Fifa alongside the caption: “Game is fresh to death!” Celebrity endorsements like this on social media can cost more than £10,000 a go. Yet LeBron, alongside other athletes and pop stars (Justin Bieber: “@Drake: I’m getting nice at Fifa. Be prepared”), have, at least according to EA, expressed their fandom freely. From the start, EA’s long-term ambition – its plan, in fact, for market dominance – was to make a game that faithfully reproduced, pixel by pixel, every aspect of real football. “My vision, even before I founded EA, was to make authentic team-sports-simulation games,” Hawkins told me. EA’s original slogan, repeated in a metallic drawl during the start-up sequences for its sports games, was: “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game.” Later, this became simply: “EA Sports: It’s in the game”. For most people under the age of 40, that familiarity extends beyond the catchphrase. The pinch of a trigger to make a player sprint, the momentary squeeze to power up a shot, the thumb-flick to perform a defender-beating feint – these moves are almost as deeply embedded in players’ muscle memory as the swipe to unlock their smartphone. EA’s single-minded drive towards authenticity has been key to Fifa’s growing dominance, even at the expense of rival games that videogame critics have considered to be superior. While it is possible to opt to play 90-minute matches, by default Fifa attempts to condense the rhythm and drama of a football match into a more manageable burst of 10 minutes (the in-game clock hurries accordingly). All of the aesthetic pleasures of the real-life game are captured: the feints and step-overs, the curve and dip of a perfectly arced free kick, the rippling net, the boots with the luminous laces. “The entire presentation aims for nothing less than an accurate rendering of the match-day experience, as seen on your TV,” says the video game critic Steve Burns. From the punditry to the branded, whizzing graphics that frame the screen with information before each match, Fifa has evolved to reproduce the glossy sheen of Sky Sports. These trappings are just the start of the game’s campaign for authenticity, which now embraces everything from the rampant commercialism of 21st-century football to the increasingly obsessive focus on data analytics. Switch on Fifa today and you will be able to play the league or international fixtures of the week, complete with accurate starting line-ups – details that are automatically sucked into the game via the internet. Teams shake hands in front of true-to-life sponsor boards, inside meticulous digital recreations of real-world stadiums, from Wembley to Gamba Osaka’s Suita City. Virtual fans sing their team’s actual chants and spit abuse at the referee – even when he has made the right call. (The virtual ref is programmed to be both omniscient and infallible.) EA works with a 9,000-member network of data reviewers, led by the German statistician Michael Müller-Möhring (known as Triple-M by his colleagues) in Cologne. They ensure that each player profile, which includes more than 30 statistics, from speed to stamina to temperament, is as accurate as possible. In the hours after the launch of the latest version of Fifa, which typically arrives each year in the final week of September, many of the 18,000-odd professional footballers included in the game huddle around, anxious to see how their recent form has been translated into the virtual game. The results can sting. In September, the former England and Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand jokingly threatened on Twitter to visit EA’s office and “tear the place down” after his in-game character was awarded 65 out of a maximum of 99 for his passing skills. In 2011, Chelsea’s diminutive attacker Eden Hazard complained that he was “three or five centimetres” too short in the game. This year, the Ipswich midfielder Jonny Williams was upset to find himself described as “injury prone”. “That hurt to be honest,” Williams told the Daily Star. (Such complaints are logged but never acted upon, one current member of the Fifa team told me.) The data Fifa draws upon has become so accurate that teams have started to use the game to scout for potential new signings or to test out the strengths and weaknesses of upcoming opponents. The Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi recently told the New York Times that when he was starting out, if a player he had never played against was on the other team, he would “look at his name and then try to remember how good he was on Fifa”. In October 2013, Leyton Orient’s manager introduced a no-Fifa-before-a-match-day policy, after members of his team stayed up late rehearsing the next day’s fixture (which they subsequently lost). The game’s reach is such that its influence has even extended into politics. Last month, communist MPs in Russia complained that a new feature in Fifa 17, which allows players to dress their virtual team with a rainbow-coloured kit to show support for a campaign against homophobia and transphobia, violated the country’s laws banning so-called “gay propaganda”. If the option was not removed, the MPs suggested, the game could be banned in Russia. Annually updated blockbuster games come with the risk of what publishers refer to as “audience fatigue”, but Fifa’s popularity and influence continues to grow. Earlier this year, the German club Wolfsburg signed David Bytheway, a 22-year-old from Wolverhampton, as a professional Fifa player. (The club runs competitions in which the prize is to play against Bytheway, pitchside, before a home game.) “Our goal is it to create a binding connection between real football and the digital version,” said Klaus Allofs, Wolfsburg’s sporting director, at the time. If EA’s original aim was to fit the whole world of football into Fifa, the company’s dogged pursuit of this goal has come to alter the world of football itself. “Until Fifa is indistinguishable from football in real life and plays exactly like football,” says Matt Prior, Fifa’s current creative director, “we’ll always have more to do.” When Jan Tian emigrated to Canada in 1982, he found a country ravaged by economic depression. “Not even McDonald’s was taking job applications,” he told me. Tian took night classes in computer technology at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, where he learned how to build and program computers. After graduating with honours, he eventually ended up at a local video game developer, which was soon acquired by EA. Tian spent the next three years working on a tennis game, one of EA’s first 3D projects, a vastly challenging undertaking given the limited power of 1980s computers. By the time the game finally came out, he was exhausted. When it failed to sell many copies, he became disillusioned. “I told my managers that I would never again work on a game based on a sport that I don’t actually play in life,” Tian said. In late 1991, after the success of EA’s flagship American football game, John Madden Football, a senior executive named Mark Lewis floated the idea of a soccer equivalent. Lewis, who had been sent to London to set up EA’s European office, wrote a proposal for a lavish, high-tech football game, one to rival the British hits of the time: Sensible Soccer, Championship Manager and Kick-Off. “Almost the entire US organisation was opposed to our idea,” recalls Lewis. “They felt that soccer was too complicated a sport.” Lewis’s tenacity, or perhaps his preposterously ambitious sales predictions – 300,000 units in total throughout Europe – eventually convinced his bosses back in San Francisco. The team began work on a proof-of-concept demo, often the first stage in developing a video game. Lewis was adamant that the game should be made in England – the home, as he saw it, of football. Undaunted by the fact that the British wing of EA was not yet set up for game production, Lewis hired two freelance game designers – Jules Burt and Jon Law – to build the game. The pair, who were based near Liverpool, spent 12 weeks on the prototype, developing three versions of the game, each of which employed a different camera position. The best of the set used a so-called isometric camera angle, positioned as if looking down on the pitch from one of the stadium’s corners. Rather than the top-down view of the pitch that other football games offered, this new perspective captured the players’ entire bodies, closing the distance between video game and televisual representations of the sport. As the British team began to make headway, the senior executives at EA decided to shift development to their more experienced team in Canada, and assigned Tian to the project. When he saw the prototype that Burt and Law had designed, Tian was astonished. “The viewpoint was revolutionary,” Tian told me. And unlike previous football games, where the ball appeared glued to the player’s foot, in Burt and Law’s demo the player knocked the ball forward and had to chase after it. “It felt like real soccer,” says Tian. “I wanted to do exactly that. And I wanted to do it better.” At this stage, Fifa was not called Fifa. When the US office announced its plan to burden the game with the calamitous title Team USA Soccer, Lewis, who was doing his best to steer the production from back in London, immediately began to scrabble for an alternative. (“I spent a lot of time working to keep the US organisation at bay,” Lewis recalls.) In May 1993, while Tian was in Beijing, EA’s vice president of European marketing, Tom Stone, flew to Lucerne in Switzerland to try to broker a deal with international football’s governing body for use of its name. Fifa had the power to give EA the rights to use national teams in the game, and while the organisation was less well known at the time than it is today, its imprimatur would lend the game the air of authenticity that EA craved. “The deal was agreed very quickly,” Stone recalls. “We literally licensed four capital letters and we paid a very, very low royalty percentage rate.” Two decades later, Stone still refuses to disclose precise figures, but it is clear that those in charge of Fifa’s licences did not realise the value of their brand. “They were a bunch of old men who had no idea what they had,” Stone said. At EA’s base in California, however, nobody took much notice. “Almost no interest was shown by the Americans,” Stone says. “I mean this respectfully, but the reason Fifa is so successful is that the game was developed and published a long way from head office.” As summer drew on and the deadline approached, Tian’s team began to work 16 hour days. At one point Tian was hospitalised for exhaustion, although he returned to work after just a few days, against doctor’s orders. Late one night in 1993, Tian’s office phone rang. Bruce McMillan, then vice president of EA Canada, picked up. “Can you let my daddy come home please?” the voice on the other end of the line said. At 2am one September morning, McMillan, production manager Joey Della-Savia, and Tian sat together at a desk looking over the game. “It’s time, Jan,” McMillan recalls saying. “Leave it alone now.” Della-Savia locked Tian’s keyboard so that he could not make any more changes, and burned a final “master” copy of the game. McMillan took the game home with him, then sat and played it until first light. In the morning he sent a message to the UK office: “It’s time to ship.” Within four weeks of its launch, Fifa International Soccer had almost doubled the UK office’s ambitious sales predictions, selling more than half a million copies to become the best selling game of the year. At first, despite EA’s best intentions, Fifa did not look much like real football. For one thing, the virtual players were not based on real footballers. David Platt, the England midfielder and Serie A star, featured on the cover of the first edition of Fifa – but that’s where he stayed. Within the game, you could choose from 48 national sides, from Scotland to Saudi Arabia, each of which consisted of 20 players. But every player looked identical, bar varying shades of skin tone, and each one had a fictional name. (Tian’s namesake “Janco Tiano” was a crack striker, naturally.) “It was a compromise,” said Marc Aubanel, a producer on the game. “NHL, NBA and NFL all had player unions and a league with team rights. Soccer in the early 90s was not set up with licensing in mind.” Following the success of the first game, EA jostled to gain the image rights to as many teams, stadiums and players as it could. The following year’s sequel, Fifa Soccer 95 included club sides from across eight different national leagues, including the Premier League. Negotiating these deals hurt EA’s bottom line but were considered an unavoidable cost to maintain an edge over the competition. “What if someone else got Manchester United?” says Aubanel. EA’s interest in licensing awoke in the English FA and Premier League an appreciation for wider commercial opportunities. “I was going to the Football Association, the Premier League, the Professional Footballers’ Association, and none of them knew who owned the rights for player likenesses or stadiums, and so on,” says Stone. “We provided the impetus for the associations to get organised.” By the time of the 1998 World Cup, Fifa had realised the extent to which it had undersold its licence and, when the time came to renegotiate the contract, the price-tag had risen. EA’s staff were forced to negotiate an increasingly complicated web of licences in order to secure the rights to the major teams, players and even commentators such as the BBC’s John Motson and Sky Sports’ Andy Gray, who would come into the studio and ad-lib commentary, without visual prompts. With Fifa’s success, new competitors entered the market each year. Most – even those such as Actua Soccer, a launch title for Sony’s PlayStation in 1995 that employed motion capture to make players’ movements look more realistic, and advanced use of commentary to match the on-screen action – were soon obliterated by EA’s marketing clout, the competitive advantage of the Fifa licence, and the Canadian team’s willingness to adopt, then surpass the competition’s techniques. Fifa’s dominance was, for a while, unchallenged. In the late 1990s a clear rival emerged in Japan. Konami’s International Superstar Soccer became the choice of the purist, thanks to its focus on fast-paced, tactical play. The choice between Fifa or International Superstar Soccer (later renamed Pro Evolution Soccer, or simply PES, as it is now known) became more than a simple question of personal taste, it spoke to your entire philosophy of video games. Were you someone who valued style over substance? Were you swayed by graphics or gameplay? Fifa was made by an army of anonymous workers. By contrast, PES was driven by a self-proclaimed auteur, Shingo Takatsuka, who went by the nickname “Seabass” (a reference to his love of sea fishing). Fifa had slickness, but PES had soul. As the rivalry intensified, according to a former employee, the absence of any major licensing deal soon became a major problem for Konami. Throughout the 1990s, Konami was forced to refer to Liverpool as the Anfield Reds. For most people, the former employee said, not being able to play as their favourite team is a deal-breaker: “It just makes a game feel budget and unofficial, regardless of whether it’s technically the better game.” EA built its strategy to dominate the football market on this simple fact. “We knew that games were on their way to becoming photorealistic,” Aubanel told me, “The more realistic the game is, the more you notice a lack of likeness rights.” “There seemed to be no real inclination across the stakeholders at Konami to do anything about EA’s clear plans to grow Fifa,” the former Konami employee told me. “Meanwhile, EA seemed to become obsessed with destroying PES.” A rumour went around Konami’s UK offices that EA had a graph of Fifa’s year-on-year sales numbers versus the declining PES sales, displayed in its reception area. Whether or not such a graph existed – a spokeswoman for EA told me she has no recollection of it – employees at Konami began to feel as if they were under siege. “As ghoulish as that sounds, when a company of that size focuses on a singular objective like that,” said the ex-employee, “it’s an incredibly tough thing to fight against.” Through the first decade of the millennium, PES retained its identity as the superior underdog. (One reviewer wrote of Fifa 06: Road To Fifa World Cup, “It’s not only awful, but it’s also sabotaging everybody else’s efforts at the same time.”) According to the video game critic Steve Burns: “Over the years, Fifa’s need for ‘realism’ bled into the on-pitch action and harmed the game.” Those meticulously motion-captured player animations, which include every stretch and flex of a digital muscle, Burns argues, slow the game’s pace. Konami’s game, by contrast, is less concerned with realism than what Burns describes as “feel”. “I once asked a senior PES developer why it feels so much better to score a goal in PES than Fifa,” Burns said. “He told me that the shooting animations are deliberately not accurate recreations of the real thing. They leave room for player intuition and invention.” Counterintuitively, Burns believes that, by employing brisker, more cartoonish animations whenever a digital player, say, leaps for a header or executes a showboating overhead kick, PES better replicates what we imagine it feels like to be a hyper-athletic professional footballer, rather than the exact reality. Over time, though, Fifa continued to pull ahead commercially. By Fifa 07, EA owned the rights to more than 500 teams, in 27 leagues, with more than 10,000 players. The football world was almost fully contained within the game. In 2012, EA dealt a particularly painful blow to its Japanese rival when it stole PES’s cover star, Lionel Messi. (Messi was, reportedly, always a Fifa man anyway; Victor Vázquez, a former teammate in Barcelona’s youth academy, remembered Messi often playing the game “for three hours without a break”.) Fifa has established a daunting lead over its old rival. According to sales figures leaked in October, Fifa 17 sold 40 times more copies than Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 in the week following each game’s release. “We will never underestimate EA and the talented Fifa team, but our goal is to establish PES as the definitive football title,” Adam Bhatti, PES’s defiant brand manager recently said. As video games have, in the past decade, become ever more expensive propositions – costs often exceed £100m – so the risks have escalated. Ryan Payton, an American game designer who worked at Konami, recalls being shown around the Pro Evolution Soccer team’s office on his first day at the Tokyo-based studio in 2005. “I was told: ‘This is the project that brings in the money. If anything bad happens to this team, we will be in deep trouble,’” Payton said. Today, Konami produces few video games and, instead, focuses on Japanese pachinko gambling machines and health spas. These days, Fifa is produced by a core team of roughly 100 people working in EA’s 400,000 square foot campus in the Vancouver suburbs. Although EA makes other games here, Fifa is the site’s flagship project (a three-quarter-length football pitch sits at the centre of the campus grounds). In the early days, the game was essentially the product of “a few people in their basements”, says creative director Matt Prior, who first played Fifa with his friends while growing up in Manchester in the mid-90s. “Now it’s a blockbuster-film-sized army.” As well as the usual phalanxes of programming machines, the EA campus also contains a warren of video editing suites, music composition rooms and a 130 foot-long motion-capture studio, where footballers such as Gareth Bale and Sergio Agüero are tracked as they run, kick and tumble, in order to translate their movements into the game. EA also takes its head-scanning rig on the road, photographing around 500 new players every year from various angles so that their digital versions appear as true-to-life as possible. For professional footballers, lending one’s likeness to the game has become far more than just another source of easy income. For Fifa: Road to World Cup 98, David Beckham appeared on the cover. “There is no doubt that was a piece in the puzzle that led Beckham to be the most marketable footballer on the planet,” Andy Bell, founder of Soap Box London, a company that manages sports personalities such as Watford striker and captain Troy Deeney, told the Sun in 2015. “The paradigm has shifted,” Matt McKie, the global brand director for EA Sports’ Fifa franchise, told me. “If someone signs a marketing deal with Fifa they get much more than a cheque; it’s not like endorsing a car.” Some players have even incorporated techniques learned on the virtual pitch into their real-life game. The German defender Mats Hummels once alluded to the way in which Fifa can help players visualise new ways of playing, saying “some people use what they learn in Fifa when they find themselves on the pitch”. In 2008, after saving a penalty from AC Milan’s Ronaldinho, the Italian goalkeeper Marco Amelia said: “It was just like playing against him on PlayStation – he had the same run-up. It was very strange.” As EA continues its quest for greater and greater realism, Matt Prior’s eagerness to make Fifa “indistinguishable” from real-world football may seem like a logical, if distant, objective. But to those who follow the game closely, it is something of a mirage. Most years, Fifa swings between a more simulation-based approach – with keenly realistic physics that generally allow for fewer goals – and a more impressionistic, playful take, in which it is easier to score screamers from 30 yards, and matches can finish with double-digit scores. Each direction has its supporters and detractors. “That’s the eternal balancing act,” says Prior. “Some people like it sim-based and defensive. Others want to jump in and see huge scorelines. There’s no perfect answer.” Any changes to the game tend to arouse fierce passions. In 2013, at E3, one of the video game industry’s largest annual conferences, held in Los Angeles, I remember the whoops of delight when an EA spokesperson announced that the players in that year’s Fifa would be able to turn their necks to head the ball at greater than 90 degrees in each direction – something that had, he said, “never before been possible”. To the outsider, it is incomprehensible that these arcane particulars could elicit such strong reactions. Yet David Rutter, the game’s executive producer, routinely receives death threats via social media from fans maddened by some perceived misstep in the game’s design. On one forum dedicated to the series, there are more than 2,000 threads that contain the word “rant” in the title. “Fans of Fifa are some of the most passionate people in the world,” Rutter told me, diplomatically. Much of the consternation revolves around one recent addition to the series, Fifa Ultimate Team (FUT). In this mode, you form a squad from a random selection of Panini-style playing cards, which include players from the past and present, then compete with your ragtag band of players online. Wins are rewarded with new packs of cards. You must pay, however, to enter each tournament, either using virtual funds accumulated in other modes, or actual money (around £2.50 for each entry to a tournament). Many players see FUT as exploiting the goodwill of fans. “I have spent the best part of £100 on packs and got completely nothing,” wrote one player. At a Morgan Stanley investor conference held in 2016, EA’s chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen revealed that the company makes $650m a year from the sale of virtual packs alone. Fifa can wheedle its way into life in unexpected ways. Not long ago, my seven-year-old son was playing a friendly match as Sunderland. With an unassailable lead against the computer, he decided to give his opponent a boost by attempting to score an own goal. As my son approached his six-yard box, his team’s computer-controlled goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, launched a savage tackle that sent his teammate spinning through the air. The goalkeeper was given a red card and in that moment, a vendetta began. “Pickford” has since become a percussive curse word in our household. My son routinely plays as Sunderland just to send Pickford, in the first minutes of a match, mournfully, to the subs bench. He runs Pickford recklessly up the pitch, praying for a leg-shattering injury. From Fifa, he has learned an appreciation not only for the beauty of this most beautiful sport, but also its agony, its ecstasy and, in the hated form of Jordan Pickford, a football fan’s ability to hold an everlasting grudge. For many who have worked on Fifa over the years, its success has come at a cost. “I paid for it with my health and family life,” Tian told me. EA’s demands on staff have escalated in recent years. When many major video game publishers only release two or three games a year, survival is dependent on each one being a hit. For Prior, managing “crunch”, as the hectic weeks of overwork leading up to a video game’s launch are grimly referred to within the industry, is another priority. “The work-life balance is way, way better than it was when I first started,” he says. EA’s current licence agreement with Fifa only runs for five more years. When the next negotiations arrive, football’s governing body can surely name its price, knowing that the game’s brand recognition depends on those four, monolithic letters. But if the price is too high, EA may choose not to renew its agreement. Perhaps Fifa could thrive without Fifa, after all. It is no stretch to argue that, just as the game has transcended the governing body from which it takes its name, so, to many, it has become, not an adjunct to, but a vital component of the sport on which it is based. In 2014 an ESPN poll found that 34% of Americans became soccer fans as a result of playing the game, while half of all Americans say that the game has increased their interest in the sport. Once upon a time, children would become football fans through Match of the Day, Panini cards jammed in tatty sticker books, and pull-out posters of Glenn Hoddle or Pelé. That has all changed. “Nowadays,” says Prior, “people come to football through our game.” • Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.


News Article | May 1, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

Think before you click. Constant retweeting can cause memory loss and learning problems, a new research has shown. While Facebook previously worried about the declining original sharing in its platform, researchers from the Cornell University and Beijing University showed that frequent sharing of information or retweeting causes the brain to undergo cognitive overload that eventually affects memory storage and learning. Professor of Human Development in Cornell University's College of Human Ecology Qi Wang said simply resorting to sharing what was previously posted diminishes an individual capacity to come up with fresh ideas that eventually translates to poor performance in life. Wang and his colleagues conducted an experiment with Chinese college students at Beijing University. Two groups of students were given messages from the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Weibo. One group was given two options: repost the message or read the next message, while the other group can only go on to read the next message. After the task, the study participants were asked to complete an online test to know whether they can recall the content of the messages they have earlier read and/or shared. Wang said the result showed that the group who were allowed to repost messages were found to have poor content recall and comprehension. The team postulated that the poor performance of those who reposted messages was secondary to cognitive overload. Wang explained that the decision process of having to choose whether to repost or not exhausts cognitive resources. To seal potential loopholes, the researchers did another experiment. After reading several Weibo messages, the participants were again asked to complete a paper test, which is not related to the previously read messages. They were also asked to answer a Workload Profile Index where the students rated the cognitive stresses of the message-viewing task. The result showed that the repost group manifested higher cognitive strain. "The sharing leads to cognitive overload, and that interferes with the subsequent task," said Wang. "In real life when students are surfing online and exchanging information and right after that they go to take a test, they may perform worse." The researchers recommend that web interface should have a design that promotes cognitive processing. The study was published in Computers in Human Behavior on April 28. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | May 15, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

The president and chief operating officer of Theranos – a long-time confidant of CEO Elizabeth Holmes – is retiring as the blood testing firm is facing federal scrutiny and shuffling its leadership. President and COO Sunny Balwani, according to Theranos’ statement Wednesday, was a key figure in its production development and growth. As no date is set for his retirement, he is said to stay on through transition. “Sunny has made invaluable contributions to Theranos’ technology and business. His passion for the Theranos mission and his leadership in core product initiatives has made a tremendous impact,” part of the statement read, also thanking the COO for his “extraordinary service.” Theranos said it has begun its search for multiple executive posts. Emphasizing organization structure changes, it added three new figures to its board of directors – Fabrizio Bonanni, former executive VP of Amgen Inc; Richard Kovacevich, former chief executive of Wells Fargo & Co; and William Foege, former CDC director. The Palo Alto, California-based company has been the subject of different federal investigations probing the accuracy and reliability of its tests. Following controversial faulty, erratic blood test results, health regulators proposed sanctions such as revoking the California laboratory’s license and prohibiting Holmes or Balwani from running another laboratory for two years. Theranos spokesperson Brooke Buchanan, however, said that Balwani’s retirement was not due to the proposed sanctions, and highlighted Theranos’ reorganization as key to its next evolution. Theranos was founded in 2003. The 31-year-old Holmes once promised to revolutionize the diagnostic industry with finger-prick tests, which are touted to determine a variety of health conditions with just a few drops of bloods. Many concerns against the company were brought to attention following an inspection report of the laboratory released in March, detailing shortcomings such as failure to meet quality control standards. Freezers were not kept at the required temperatures, documentary signatures were missing, and unqualified personnel were hired, to name a few. Prior to its recent statement, Theranos had largely pinned the blame on a lab director, a dermatologist working part-time for it. Faulting the former employee without faulting the COO as well, though, proved implausible, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) previously showing rejection of Theranos’ stance in its 45-page March18 letter threatening the CEO and COO ban. In the series of Wall Street Journal articles, some concerning details include email conversations between Balwani and a former lab employee, where the latter raised questions on the accuracy of their proprietary technologies and potential impropriety in Theranos’ handling of its proficiency tests. Balwani met Holmes back in the early 2000s at Beijing University, where they were both studying Mandarin. In 2009, Balwani joined the company as its president – a time when Theranos, now employing 1,000, only had up to 50 employees. In a previous interview, Balwani called Holmes "probably the most important inventor" of her time, adding her creativity for problem solving and ablity to simplify complex tasks ahead. “I will continue to be the company’s biggest advocate and look forward to seeing Theranos’ innovations reach the world,” Balwani said in the press release announcing the recent developments. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | December 19, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

The U.S. Department of Education reported that after Spanish, Mandarin was the most popular dual-language education program implemented by individual states in 2013. In September 2015, the US-China Strong Foundation launched its 1 Million Strong campaign to increase the number of American K-12 Mandarin language learners to one million by 2020: “Announced in 2015 by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, the goal of 1 Million Strong is to grow the next generation of leaders who have a deeper understanding of China by creating a pipeline of China-savvy employees in a range of critical industries, and ensuring that US students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to gain China-related skills.” According to the Foreign Service Institute, it takes about four times the amount of time to be proficient in Mandarin Chinese as the time needed to be proficient in a romance language more closely to English such as French, Spanish, or Italian. No wonder David Moser from the University of Michigan wrote a famous essay titled, “Why Chinese is so damn hard?” It bears the question: What is the most effective way to learn Chinese? Historically, Chinese language learning was primarily limited to heritage language schools by and for Chinese immigrants either after-school or on weekends. Chinese was learned mostly through textbooks from China or Taiwan with limited content on Chinese history, culture, and geography. Since the 1980’s, there have been Chinese language immersion schools in the U.S, making Chinese language learning a part of the regular school curriculum. However, the approach adopted in most Chinese immersion programs remains textbook based (drilling students through dictation, sentence writing, and so forth). The biggest problem with this approach is that the students learn “textbook Chinese” which is hardly comparable to the language they would be using during daily life and learning. It is unlikely that students taught by this method will be able to fully use the language they learn in real life. In addition, the scope of Chinese learning is narrower in many Mandarin immersion programs with the primary focus being on language learning. The Shu Ren International School is a Mandarin immersion school for students from preschool to grade 8 that is expanding it's offerings and now enrolling PreK-8 students. The school is also an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB)’s Primary Years Program (PYP). The PYP curriculum includes the following components: The written curriculum explains what PYP students will learn, through identifying a framework of what’s worth knowing. A balance is sought between acquiring knowledge and skills, developing conceptual understanding, building a positive attitude, and finally taking responsible action. Knowledge: There are six transdisciplinary themes in the PYP, which are central to the knowledge aspect of the essential element mentioned above. The six transdisciplinary themes are: Who we are, Where we are in place and time, How we express ourselves, How the world works, How we organize ourselves, and Sharing the planet. The PYP is transdisciplinary, meaning that students spend most of their time learning about globally significant themes from a variety of perspectives and disciplines as opposed to having traditionally separate subject courses. The subjects in the PYP include Language, Mathematics, Science, Social studies, Arts, and PSPE (Personal Social Physical Education). Skills: Through planned activities students acquire and apply a set of transdisciplinary skills that will allow them to succeed in a changing world. They are: social skills, communication skills, thinking skills, research skills and self-management skills. These skills are valuable, not only in the units of inquiry, but also for any teaching and learning that goes on within the classroom, and in life outside of school. Concepts: Eight key concepts are identified (Form, Function, Causation, Change, Connection, Perspective, Responsibility, and Reflection). These powerful ideas have relevance within subject areas but also transcend them, and are accompanied by open-ended questions. These questions promote focus, and develop a coherent, in-depth understanding. Attitudes: The PYP Attitudes are a vital focus in the development of positive attitudes towards people, the environment, and learning. They include: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect, and tolerance. Action: “In the PYP, it is believed that education must extend beyond the intellectual to include not only socially responsible attitudes but also thoughtful and appropriate action. An explicit expectation of the PYP is that successful inquiry will lead to responsible action, initiated by the student as a result of the learning process. This action will extend the student’s learning, or it may have a wider social impact, and will clearly look different within each age range.” (Making the PYP Happen, IB, 2007) The taught curriculum, details how best students learn and good classroom practices in the framework of the PYP. The PYP is committed to structured, purposeful inquiry that actively engages students in their own learning. These inquiries, focus on important issues of the social and natural world, helping students construct meaning from the world around them. Assessment of student work in the PYP is carried out in a variety of ways. Most importantly, your child will be involved in developing the criteria of assessment with the teacher. Supporting them in understanding how he/she will be assessed before any assessment take place. This partnership will engender a much greater understanding of assessment, develop better self-assessment, and raise personal achievement expectations. This is part of the PYP goal to increase students’ awareness of their own learning. At Shu Ren, our PYP curriculum is written, taught and assessed exclusively in Mandarin Chinese at our Pre-primary school (ages 3-5) and in both Mandarin and English from Kindergarten to Grade 5. Chinese language is used not just to learn language, but to be used as a vehicle for inquiry, in the process of obtaining enduring understanding about important and significant aspects of the world, and building their attitudes and characters. This model offers a rich and significant context for Chinese language learning, thus, the language learned can be easily transferred into daily life, stimulate students’ interests in the language and obtain a higher order thinking ability in Chinese. When Chinese is used as the language of learning, it becomes more fun and meaningful to students and thus, learning Chinese is not as hard as it once was! Jie Moore is the current head of school at Shu Ren International School. She received her B.S. in Biology from Beijing University, and Ph.D. in Sociology from University of Washington. After graduate school, Jie worked as a Research Scientist at the University of Washington for six years during which she studied a variety of issues related to academic and social/emotional development among children and adolescents. Through her research, she began to think it might be beneficial to children in the United States if the best educational approaches and cultural perspectives of China and the United States were combined. Guo J., Collins, L.M., Hill, K.G., Hawkins, J.D. (2000) Developmental pathways to alcohol abuse and dependence in young adulthood. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 61(6):799-808. Guo J., Hill, K.G., Hawkins, J.D., Abbott, R.D. (2001) Childhood and adolescent predictors of alcohol abuse and dependence in young adulthood. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 62(6): 754-762. Guo, J., Chung, I.J., Hill, K.G., Hawkins, J.D., Catalano, R.F., and Abbott, R.D. (2002a) Developmental relationships between adolescent substance use and risky sexual behavior in young adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Health, 31(4), 354-362. Guo, J., Hill, K.G., Hawkins, J.D., Catalano, R.F., and Abbott, R.D. (2002b) A developmental analysis of sociodemographic, family, and peer effects on adolescent illicit drug initiation. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41(7), 838-845.

Loading Beijing University collaborators
Loading Beijing University collaborators