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US Scholars Propose Chinese Learning for Kids

A foreign language instruction with kids should start as early as possible and when it turns to Chinese-language teaching in the United States, some directors of Confucius Institute there give a similar attitude and propose they build a pipeline of students so that Chinese language education may kick off on elementary school students.

As Chinese language is fast becoming one of the most widely learned second languages in the world, the number of American students learning Mandarin Chinese has at least tripled in recent years. This is according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Based on the fact that kids learn things more quickly, many educators in the US believe their students should take Chinese courses in high schools or a lot earlier in elementary schools.

Madeline Spring, Director of Confucius Institute at the US Arizona State University shares this belief, saying that she really wants to not only building a Confucius Institute at university level, but also a pipeline for students.

"We are really trying to build a pipeline of students, so we want students to start as early as we can get them. And we want them to continue improving, so we don't want them just continuing to take Chinese, we want them to continuing to learn to perform in Chinese. And I think that's a key we want to think about when we think about articulation."

Meanwhile, in order to encourage kids to take Chinese courses in the Confucius Institute she works in, Madeline Spring also gave explanations on a scholarship program.

"We have a collegiate scholars' program where high school kids can take college credit for classes at college level. And we have this Chinese language flagship program which really encourages students to reach very high levels professionally in their own domain."

Confucius Institutes are non-profit public institutions, usually jointly established by universities of host country-China and a foreign college, serve as a platform to promote Chinese language and culture worldwide.

According to Donna Wiseman, Director of Confucius Institute at US University of Maryland, the Washington D.C area, where her University is based, is found quite a bit interest in learning Chinese language and culture. So far, their 5 Confucius Classrooms have impacted one-thousand pre-k to 12th grade school-students from all walks of life.

In order to more effectively inspire these young school kids, Donna Wiseman's Confucius Institute arranged a trip to China for students from Paint Branch elementary school, located in the neighborhood of US University of Maryland, and this international travel is pleasantly called by Donna Wiseman a fulfilling experience to arouse students' interest in Chinese culture.

"When you talk to them after they return, you can see that a light has been turned on with them that they will never ever think about international travel of being a part of Chinese language and culture is something that they could achieve. And it's a very fulfilling activity to sit and listen to them describe how they feel about travel after their trip in China."

Donna Wiseman added to explain what makes the trip more meaningful is the students in school cannot afford this trip on their own, and so the money is raised by their parents and by the community with big sale and all other kinds of activities, which make the students cherish and value more on this knowledge-accumulating tour.

News from GOLBAL TIMES



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