[photopress:MBA_Chinese_students_1.jpg,full,alignright]An inaugural course in Mandarin Chinese is being to nearly 40 students at Port Charlotte and Charlotte high schools in Florida. Pine View School is entering its second year of teaching Chinese.
The schools are part of a growing national effort to teach American students how to speak a language used by about a quarter of the world’s 6.6 billion people.
Chinese, which is offered in an estimated 40 public and private schools across Florida, is rapidly expanding beyond the ‘other’ category of foreign-language courses.
According to Marty Abbott, education director for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, since 2000, the number of U.S. public-school students enrolled in a Chinese class has gone from 5,000 to as many as 50,000.
The popularity of Chinese has been fueled largely by two factors: the Chinese government’s large investment in a teacher-exchange program with the U.S., and President Bush’s National Security Language Initiative.
In the past two years, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded $21 million to schools to launch programs in ‘critical foreign languages’.
Margie Guerzon Fox, president of the Florida Foreign Language Association said, ‘Mandarin Chinese has been getting all the attention.’
Source: Charlotte Herald-Tribune