Lost in translation: fewer than 50,000 American students study Chinese, compared to 200 million Chinese students studying English, but the gap is beginning to narrow.
IN 2002, THE CHINESE AMERICAN Chinese Americans (Chinese language: 美籍華人 or 華裔美國人) are Americans of Chinese descent. Chinese Americans constitute one group of Overseas Chinese and are a subgroup of Asian Americans. INTERNATIONAL School, a private preK-8 school in San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , cosponsored a one-day workshop for Chinese language teachers from the Bay Area. Most of the 40 teachers who attended came from heritage schools, which are weekend schools for students of Chinese ancestry who want to learn the language and culture of their parents' native land. As of last year, attendance at the annual event has grown to 150 teachers. In March, the Chinese American International School, or CAIS CAIS - Common APSE Interface Specification , expanded the workshop into a three-day conference that drew nearly 275 Chinese language teachers, aspiring teachers and administrators across the U.S., not just from heritage schools. "This is more for schools interested in integrating Chinese programs into their curriculum," a testament that the interest is growing, says Megan Conley, CAIS development project manager.
For proponents of Chinese language classes in American K12 schools, these are heady times. The San Francisco conference illustrates the explosive growth in Chinese instruction nationwide. More schools are preparing for what they hope will soon be their own new programs. And teacher and student exchange programs are on the rise.
Let's Talk Business
Chinese is the native tongue of the world's most populous pop·u·lous
Containing many people or inhabitants; having a large population.
[Middle English, from Latin popul nation, spoken by an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide. Most American schools teach the Mandarin dialect, the official language of China.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the International Monetary Fund, from 1980 to 2006 China's gross domestic product grew at an annual average increase of nearly 10 percent. Comparably, the GDP GDP (guanosine diphosphate): see guanine. in India, another economic contender, grew by nearly 6 percent.
China's economic power is driving American leaders--in government, business and education--to plead for more Chinese to be taught to a nation of foreign language challenged youth. With China increasingly flexing its economic might, more Americans view with urgency the need to teach young people the language.
Learning the language is about preparing to conduct a dialogue with the nation's future business partners. As with any language, the earlier students start and the longer they stick with it, the more proficient they become. Yu-Lan Lin, the director of world languages for Boston Public Schools Boston Public School is a feeder school to Townsend Central Public School and Waterford District High School, part of the Grand Erie District School Board. It is located in Boston, Ontario, near Waterford, Ontario, at 2993 Cockshutt Road, Waterford, Ontario N0E 1Y0. , says students who study Chinese through college, particularly those in exchange and immersion programs in China, can reach fluency. "We're encouraging students not only to study the language but to experience the language firsthand first·hand
Received from the original source: firsthand information.
first ," Lin says.
A Foundation to Build On
Much of the recent growth in Chinese language instruction in American schools can be traced to an initiative begun in 1982 by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was created in 1973, when, upon her death on August 13, 1973, Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge left $85 million to fund the new institution. Dodge was the youngest child of Standard Oil tycoon William Rockefeller and his wife Almira Geraldine Goodsell. , which is designed to make society more humane.
Under former executive director Scott McVay, a Princeton University Princeton University, at Princeton, N.J.; coeducational; chartered 1746, opened 1747, rechartered 1748, called the College of New Jersey until 1896. Schools and Research Facilities
graduate, the Dodge Foundation set out to provide seed money for high schools that wanted to start Mandarin language the spoken or colloquial language of educated people in China.
See also: Mandarin courses.
McVay sought proposals from hundreds of high-achieving high schools. Over the next decade, Dodge awarded $2.7 million in grants to 60 schools. "The push for Chinese, whether you're in Massachusetts, Illinois or California, came inevitably from the parents, who had the same vision as we did, that China is one-fourth of the world, and we need to learn the language," McVay recalls.
But the foundation's work did not stop with the doling out of grants. McVay insisted that Dodge follow up with the schools and provide teachers with training and materials. The foundation organized summer workshops for teachers at Ohio State University Ohio State University, main campus at Columbus; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered 1870, opened 1873 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, renamed 1878. There are also campuses at Lima, Mansfield, Marion, and Newark. led by the late Ta Tua Ch'en, a Chinese language professor at Princeton; funded the development of a high school textbook called The Chinese Primer; arranged exchange programs that brought Chinese natives to the U.S.; and funded the creation of the Secondary School Chinese Language Center at Princeton University.
The Build Up
Then in 2003, the College Board, the nonprofit agency that administers SAT tests and Advanced Placement programs, announced that it would team with Hanban, the Chinese government Ever since Republic of China founded in January 1st, 1912, China has had several regional and national governments. List
Although critics of Hanban's role questioned whether an arm of the Chinese government should be involved in an American education program, educators point to the new course as a pivotal move in bringing Chinese into America's academic mainstream. A host of initiatives to promote the teaching of Chinese have since followed.
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is the only national organization dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction. , following a meeting of government, business and academic leaders in January 2005, issued recommendations to expand foreign languages in American schools. Later that year, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it would team with the University of Oregon The University of Oregon is a public university located in Eugene, Oregon. The university was founded in 1876, graduating its first class two years later. The University of Oregon is one of 60 members of the Association of American Universities. and the 53,000-student Portland Public School District in the first "language pipeline" project, part of the National Security Education Program, which dates to the first President Bush. The Portland project The Portland Project is an initiative taken to establish a greater Linux foothold in the desktop market. It aims at resolving a number of key factors that are believed to reduce the adoption rate of Linux distributions as desktop operating systems. , for which the government has issued $1.7 million in grants over the past two years, is designed to provide a cohesive curriculum for language instruction for students from kindergarten through college.
Portland was chosen in part because it had a well-established Chinese language program. Nine years ago, Portland schools started a Chinese immersion program in kindergarten. The first class enters high school this fall. Under the pipeline project, the district is creating a model that other schools can replicate and sustain, says Michael Bacon, who coordinates immersion programs in Chinese, Japanese and Spanish for Portland public schools Portland Public Schools can refer to the school district in at least three school districts.
National Security Language Initiative
In January 2006, President Bush acknowledged the need for more Americans to learn languages deemed vital when he introduced the National Security Language Initiative, which aims to provide $114 million to assist students studying languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Farsi. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, then Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte John Dimitri Negroponte (born July 21, 1939 in the United Kingdom) (IPA [ˌnɛgroʊˈpɑnti]) is a American diplomat. He is currently serving as the United States Deputy Secretary of State. and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings were assigned to carry out the plan, meaning their departments would oversee teacher recruitment and training, student exchanges, and study abroad programs. (Last fall, Spellings concluded a trip to Asia with a stop in Beijing, where she promoted the U.S. as a destination for Asian scholars and assured her hosts that American students and teachers hoped to increase their visits to China.)
The issue of foreign language study surfaced in the Senate last January 2007, when a Senate subcommittee conducted a hearing titled "Lost in Translation: A Review of the Federal Government's Efforts to Develop a Foreign Language Strategy." Among those invited to testify was Rita Oleksak, president of the ACTFL ACTFL American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages . "It is a growing reality that American students are losing a competitive edge in the business world because they lack skills in other languages and cultures," Oleksak told the panel. "Increasingly, American business needs employees with these skills not just to conduct business overseas but also to conduct business at home, due to the changing demographics of the U.S. population."
Yet Oleksak, in her testimony before the Senate subcommittee, questioned whether four government agencies could reasonably share the workload, a situation that she considered untenable for creating real change. She called on Congress to create a director of National Language Initiatives to coordinate the steps that were being taken by the different agencies.
"This is the only way we will be able to build our nation's language capabilities and close the language gap that prevents the U.S. from full participation in global interactions and threatens our economic and national security," Oleksak said. As of March, Congress had not acted on her suggestion, and there is no indication it will in the future.
The College Board and Hanban Partner Again
In 2006, the College Board partnered again with Hanban on a five-year plan Five-Year Plan, Soviet economic practice of planning to augment agricultural and industrial output by designated quotas for a limited period of usually five years. called the Chinese Language and Culture initiatives. Goals include: to help schools start Chinese language programs, to fill the shortage of qualified teachers, to provide continued teacher training, and to support the publication of Chinese language textbooks. Last summer the College Board, working with an organization of 309 Chinese language teachers known as CLASS, the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools, brought 400 education leaders on a weeklong tour of China designed to gain enthusiasm and knowledge that they'll need in order to create Chinese programs of their own.
The College Board hopes to take another 800 educators on a similar trip this summer, according to Selena Cantor, director of the College Board's Chinese language initiatives. In January, 34 native Chinese teachers, screened by the College Board, arrived to teach for up to three years in elementary, middle and high schools in 19 states. Another 100 Chinese teachers are scheduled to arrive this summer.
With the first Chinese language and culture AP exam to be administered next month, Cantor says the College Board is keeping expectations low Some 1,500 high school students will take the exam.
"Many students in the beginning will be students who are either in a school program who have had Chinese for a number of years," Cantor adds, "or Chinese students who have been taking weekend classes."
Catching Up and Catching On
The U.S. is playing a lopsided lop·sid·ed
1. Heavier, larger, or higher on one side than on the other.
2. Sagging or leaning to one side.
3. game of catch-up. Today while some 200 to 250 million Chinese students are learning to speak English, it's estimated that no more than 50,000 pre-college students study Chinese in the U.S. Yet even those meager mea·ger also mea·gre
1. Deficient in quantity, fullness, or extent; scanty.
2. Deficient in richness, fertility, or vigor; feeble: the meager soil of an eroded plain.
3. numbers represent a sharp rise. According to a 1992 report by the National Foreign Language Center at Johns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins University, mainly at Baltimore, Md. Johns Hopkins in 1867 had a group of his associates incorporated as the trustees of a university and a hospital, endowing each with $3.5 million. Daniel C. , fewer than 1,400 American junior high and high school students were taking Chinese language courses in 1970. By 1990, that figure had grown to nearly 7,400.
Since then, schools have made inroads inroads
make inroads into to start affecting or reducing: my gambling has made great inroads into my savings
inroads npl to make inroads into [+ . The Chicago public school system, for example, has launched the nation's most ambitious effort, reaching 6,000 students and starting in kindergarten. Minnesota's first Chinese immersion school, in which almost all lessons are taught in Chinese, opened last fall in St. Paul St. Paul
as a missionary he fearlessly confronts the “perils of waters, of robbers, in the city, in the wilderness.” [N.T.: II Cor. 11:26]
See : Bravery .
Syosset Public Schools in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of introduced Chinese for first-graders seven years ago, soon after Superintendent of Schools Carol Hankin read a poster at an airport that stated that Chinese would soon become the most-used language on the Web. Syosset students learn a different language each year from kindergarten (Russian) through fifth grade (Latin). "We find when they get to high school they are very comfortable in different languages," Hankin says. "That fear factor seems to have gone away."
In the 9,500-student Fairfield Public Schools in Connecticut, Chinese classes will start this fall in two high schools. Gary Rosato, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, says the district expects to hire one teacher to start and has allotted al·lot
tr.v. al·lot·ted, al·lot·ting, al·lots
1. To parcel out; distribute or apportion: allotting land to homesteaders; allot blame.
2. slightly more than $70,000 to cover salary, textbooks and professional development. Lin says starting a new program with a single teacher typically costs closer to $100,000, which would cover salary, health insurance and professional development as well as textbooks.
On the opposite extreme, Fairfax County Public Schools The Fairfax County Public Schools system (abbreviated FCPS) is a branch of the Fairfax County government which administers public schools in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax. in northern Virginia Northern Virginia (NoVA) consists of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and the independent cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park. added Chinese, Arabic and Korean about 10 years ago to its foreign language program, which today consists of 11 languages. The diverse student body speaks 100 native languages, says Paula Patrick, coordinator of foreign language instruction. Of its 164,000 K12 students, 45,000 study a foreign language, and of those, 764 are taking Chinese, about 13 times as many as five years ago.
Last fall, the Fairfax district received a $188,000 federal grant, part of the National Security Language Initiative, to help more than 1,500 students studying Arabic and Chinese. The three-year grant will be used in part to hire a new Chinese teacher at Providence Elementary School Providence Elementary School is a public Kindergarten through Grade 5 elementary school in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
According to statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. , where first-graders will study the language this fall, and two new Chinese teachers for high school. The grant will also help pay for Chinese teachers to travel to Beijing this summer for study. "When we first started Chinese in 1996, most of the students filling the classes were heritage speakers, so they had a Chinese background," Patrick says. "But as things changed around the nation and Chinese tended to come to the forefront, we're getting many more non-Chinese students coming into Chinese classes."
The demand to expand Chinese instruction, Patrick says, typically comes not from administrators or teachers, but from the community. "Schools that are selecting Chinese for elementary programs, many of them are parents wanting their children to learn Chinese so that they're prepared for the future," she says. "I find that's a huge shift, even in the past five years."
In 1990, Livingston High School Livingston High School may refer to:
The School That Schools Call On
When American school administrators want to start a Chinese program, many call on CAIS, where student tuition runs from $17,200 to $18,000 a year. Since its first class of four students in 1981, CAIS has become something of an industry standard-bearer. So many teachers, parents and administrators have sought to learn from the school's experience that Andrew Corcoran, head of school, established a formal monthly tour of the school. So far this school year, representatives of more than 100 institutions have visited from as far away as South America South America, fourth largest continent (1991 est. pop. 299,150,000), c.6,880,000 sq mi (17,819,000 sq km), the southern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. and the Philippines. The school also established the Institute for the Teaching of Chinese Language and Culture, which sponsors programs that offer materials and guidance to administrators and teachers starting new programs.
Last month's Conference for the Teaching of Chinese Language and Culture, held at San Francisco State University • • [ , included workshops that addressed issues that arise in Chinese programs-how teacher candidates can get certified for public schools, how to integrate the study of Chinese culture into the curriculum, and how to keep student interest high once, as Corcoran says, "the bloom goes off." Because Chinese takes longer to master than more traditional foreign languages, students may get frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: . Corcoran, also executive director of the teaching institute, believes teachers must continue to excite students about the language. "Those of us who have programs," Corcoran says, "have a responsibility to assist those schools that are trying to start up."
Tongue Tied tongue tie Ankyloglossia ENT A condition in which the tongue's free movement is restricted, as the lingual frenum is attached too far forward on the tongue, restricting tongue motion. See Tongue.
Chinese is a category 4 language-a designation developed by the Foreign Service Institute--which means it can take an English-speaking American as much as four times longer to learn than a Romance language Noun 1. Romance language - the group of languages derived from Latin
Latinian language, Romance
Haitian Creole - a creole language spoken by most Haitians; based on French and various African languages such as Spanish or French.
The standardized form of spoken Chinese Spoken Chinese (or Chinese dialects) comprises many regional variants. Although the English word dialect is often used to translate the Chinese term fangyan (Chinese: 方言 is Mandarin, which is based on the Beijing dialect. Standard Mandarin is the official language of mainland China and Taiwan, as well as one of four official languages of Singapore There are a multitude of languages spoken in Singapore that reflects its multi-racial society. The Singapore government recognises four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. .
The language is based on characters, not letters, which must be memorized. While an educated person might recognize 7,000 characters, the language has more than 50,000. And spoken Chinese does not differentiate according to gender or number or tense-though written Chinese Written Chinese refers to the written symbols used to represent spoken Chinese, along with rules and conventions about how they are arranged and punctuated. These symbols are commonly known as Chinese characters (traditional/simplified Chinese: 漢字/汉字; does. The most difficult aspect of learning Chinese may be understanding the tones: In Chinese, the same word might be pronounced four different ways, each with a different meaning. Depending on which tone is used, for example, the Chinese word that we might pronounce pro·nounce
v. pro·nounced, pro·nounc·ing, pro·nounc·es
a. To use the organs of speech to make heard (a word or speech sound); utter.
b. as "ma" could mean "mother" or it could mean "horse."
There are two writing systems deployed in the Chinese-speaking world.
Here's a visual example: Traditional [right arrow] Simplified
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a set of codes used to represent letters, numbers, a few symbols, and control characters. Originally designed for teletype operations, it has found wide application in computers. .]
Traditional characters are used in Taiwan and Hong Kong, whereas simplified characters are used in mainland China, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Andrew Corcoran, head of the Chinese American International School, started learning Chinese in 1999-two years before he took the job at CAIS. He continues to study, although he has far from mastered it. "1 started to learn it in my mid-50s, and I consider myself a testament to why you need to start at a young age," Corcoran says. "I've been here for six years, and my students and my teachers tell me I'm at about a second-grade level."
Finding Qualified Teachers
In a 2004 survey by the College Board, nearly 2,400 high schools wanted to offer AP Chinese. The problem is finding qualified teachers. The College Board is working to fill the critical teacher gap--if only temporarily--by bringing in native Chinese teachers. By 2009, the College Board's Selena Cantor says, it plans to provide American schools with 250 teachers from China, a short-term solution for districts just starting a Chinese program.
Yu-Lan Lin, executive director of the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools, or CLASS, believes that finding qualified teachers is key in starting a program. "1 think for now a lot of school districts are thinking, 'How do we do this? Who do we recruit?' There are very few qualified teachers in the field to fill the job," says Lin, also director of world languages for Boston Public Schools. "I think a lot of schools are hesitant."
For CLASS, the main concern is training enough teachers. 'There's a really big demand for teachers," says Lucy Lee Lucy Lee can refer to one of two popular porn stars:
About 10 years ago, CLASS, working with other groups of foreign language teachers, helped establish standards for Chinese language learning. Last summer, working with Hanban, CLASS sent 25 teachers to study in China. Another trig, with twice as many teachers, is planned for this summer. In November, CLASS will celebrate its 20t" anniversary during" a conference being held with the much larger ACTFL. Lee says professional support is vital for Chinese language teachers in the U.S., many of whom may not have colleagues in their schools. "We do think we need some platform to exchange our frustrations, to support each other, to grow together," she says "That's why we're trying to build an infrastructure for the future. To be honest I don't think we're ready for this wave. We really want to plead to the administrators to help them with professional development for the new teachers and the current teachers."
How to Start a Chinese Program
* Grassroots public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most work may be necessary. If the motivation to introduce a Chinese language program hasn't already come from parents and students, talk to them as well as the school board. You'll need their support, as some might perceive it as a radical idea. "It's important that you're clear how this mission fits into your school's mission," says Andrew Corcoran, head of school at the Chinese American International School in San Francisco. Make sure parents understand what learning the language involves. They need to know that children will not learn Chinese as quickly as French, for example.
* Visit another school to find out how they create and sustain a program. The Chinese American International School, for example, routinely hosts visiting administrators to teach this. Or contact Chinese language teacher organizations, such as CLASS, the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools (www.classk12.orq), or the American Council American Council may refer to:
or adult education
Any form of learning provided for adults. In the U.S. the University of Wisconsin was the first academic institution to offer such programs (1904). . "We need more support," says Lucy Chu Lee, a CLASS vice president. "The supporting system is not built-in yet."
* The federal government has several programs designed to advance the cause of Chinese instruction in American schools. For more information, visit www. ncela.gwu.eclu/and www.exchanges.state. gov/education/tclp.htm.
* Enlist nonprofit groups that have pushed Chinese programs, such as the College Board and the Asia Society. The College Board sends administrators to China to explore how to create programs, it organizes trips to China for teachers at American schools, and it has started bringing native Chinese teachers to the U.S. for up to three years.
Christopher Hann is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.