Trend takes advantage of growing partnership between nations
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/01/2013 -- While Susan Wang could not speak english until she arrived at age 16, she now heads a school offering children of the United States an opportunity to plunge into the world of China and help them learn the language and culture.
Her establishment is now part of a rapidly growing “immersion” mandarin language program within the United States, and has be assisted by Beijing, which provides low-cost native-speaking teachers to cash-strapped U.S. Schools.
Students as young as five-years-old at the Broadways Elementary School in Venice, located in Los Angeles, take classes that are presented entirely in Chinese. The project has been so successful that it is now having to move to a new campus to keep up with demand.
“The single most exciting thing has to be watching the kids learn, and how they learn, and how fast they pick up another language, it’s just amazing,” she told AFP, in a pause from her busy day at the bustling local school.”
“I didn’t speak English when I came, so when it comes to dual language and language learning … it’s something close to my heart,” she added.
Immersion programs are not a new concept in America, even classes that offer Chinese. However, China's rapidly expanding role has been fueled by the growing demand for Mandarin languages skills, which mirror Washington's diplomatic pivot across the Pacific Ocean.
Mandarin teaching has thus expanded across the nation over the last decade, while in contrast to the other foreign languages which have been decreasing in the foothold in the United States, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics.
“Mandarin is really taking off … Chinese was one of the few languages that increased, most other language offerings decreased, including French, German, and Japanese,” Nancy Rhodes of the Washington DC-based CAL told AFP.
Beijing’s education ministry is also helping, by sending native-speaker teachers effectively for free to work in US schools.
“Schools are of course experiencing huge budget cuts, so the offer of free or low cost native-speaker teachers from China to teach language classes really looks good,” said Rhodes.
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