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Classes in Chinese Grow as the Language Rides a Wave of Popularity

The future of foreign language study in the United States might be Chinese. Chinese classes began in America for just several years. Many American students are already choosing it over Spanish. Chinese is new baby. Everybody just wants in.

With encouragement from the Chinese and American governments, schools across the United States are expanding their language offerings to include Chinese, the world's most spoken tongue, not to mention one of its most difficult to learn.

The Defense Department of America gave a $700,000 grant to public schools in Portland, Oregon, to double the number of students studying Chinese in an immersion program. Two senators of United States introduced a bill to spend $1.3 billon over five years on Chinese language programs in schools and on cultural exchanges to improve ties between the United States and China.

Advanced Placement Chinese classes will be offered in high schools around the country starting in 2006. Beijing is paying for half the $1.35 million to develop the classes, including Chinese teachers' scholarships and developing curriculums and examinations.

Many Americans are beginning to realize the importance of speaking Chinese. Chinese will provide as much powerful support as we can.
The number of Chinese language programs around the country, from elementary school through adult programs, has tripled in 10 years.
Up to 50,000 students are studying Chinese in elementary and secondary schools in the United States, experts estimate. Many are in cities like New York and San Francisco that have large numbers of Chinese-American students, and many take lessons after school or on weekends.

From an all-black elementary school on the West Side to a nearly all-Hispanic elementary school on the South Side to more diverse schools throughout the city, some 3,000 students from kindergarten through high school are learning Chinese. The Chinese Education Ministry has called the program a model for teaching students who are not of Chinese descent. The ministry donated 3,000 textbooks to the school system last year.

Some parents worry about how relevant the Chinese classes are and whether they will be too difficult. The Foreign Service Institute, which trains American diplomats, ranks Chinese as one of the four most time-intensive languages to learn. An average English speaker takes 1,320 hours to become proficient in Chinese, compared with 480 hours in French, Spanish or Italian, the institute says.

Many schools offer the language four times a week for 40 minutes a day. Each school decides how to fit the class in the school day, with some taking time from classes like physical education, music and art to make room.

Chicago has a waiting list of schools that want to offer Chinese. The main obstacle is a lack of teachers certified by an American college, a requirement of the No Child Left Behind law. It’s hard when they can’t hire a Chinese teacher is qualified. The shortage of teachers is common throughout the United States.

Six states have signed or plan to sign agreements with the Chinese government to import teachers from China and send teachers from the United States to China for training. Eventually, the American government have to homegrow their own Chinese teach


News from: China Windos

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