News / USA

Beijing Helps US Students Learn Chinese

Confucius Classroom program brings Chinese teachers to America

Zheng Ling is one of two Mandarin teachers at St. Mary's School in Medford, Oregon.
Zheng Ling is one of two Mandarin teachers at St. Mary's School in Medford, Oregon.

Multimedia

Audio
Chris Lehman

A visit to a Chicago high school was on the agenda as Chinese President Hu Jintao wrapped up his visit to the United States. Walter Payton College Preparatory High School is one of dozens in the U.S. that offers Chinese language and cultural instruction through a program called "Confucius Classrooms," which is partially funded by the Beijing government.

The first U.S. school to take part in the program was St. Mary's School in Medford, Oregon, where an 11th-grade class is running through a list of words for traditional Chinese instruments. The 16 and 17-year-olds are in their fourth year of learning Mandarin Chinese. 

Popular choice

Carly Irvine is not sure when she'll use her Chinese language skills outside the classroom. But she figures that day will come. "Since China and America are working so closely and our relationship is growing more and more," she says. "I think it will be very important in the future to know Chinese."

Confucius classroom is expanding rapidly around the world. St. Mary's added Mandarin to its foreign language curriculum in 2005, and three years ago, became the first school in the country to sign up for the Confucius Classroom program.

Here's how it works: The Chinese ministry of education sends a teacher to a school in the United States, pays about half of that teacher's salary and living expenses, and supplies educational materials such as books and computer programs.

Confucius classroom, a program from the Chinese government aimed at teaching high school students Chinese culture and language, is expanding rapidly around the world.
Confucius classroom, a program from the Chinese government aimed at teaching high school students Chinese culture and language, is expanding rapidly around the world.

St. Mary's principal, Frank Phillips, says some parents of students at the private college-prep school were skeptical at first.

"It was so off-beat and weird then," says Phillips. "We got a lot of feedback from parents, 'Why would you teach Chinese off all things? Why not Spanish?'" St. Mary's does offer Spanish, along with German and Latin. But Phillips says knowing Chinese will give his students an advantage in a world where China is fast becoming a global economic superpower.

Lingering questions

The idea of accepting money from the government in Beijing raised eyebrows in his southern Oregon community.

"The question I always get is, 'Is this a gigantic propaganda move, is this an evil Communist plot on the part of China?'' says Phillips. "That's the number one kind of lingering Cold War suspicion about this program. From what I can detect, having been involved in it for two years, I see none of that."

In fact, the Chinese language education program has the support of the community's representative in the state legislature as well as the attention of neighboring public school districts. Nearby Ashland High School looked to St. Mary's for assistance in bringing a teacher from China to teach Mandarin. A hundred students signed up for the course.

Ashland superintendent Juli Di Chiro says the skills they're learning will be valuable if, as many advocates of teaching Mandarin say, China plays an even bigger role on the global stage in the future.

"Obviously kids mastering a second language, whatever that language is, is important," says Di Chiro. "But just given the changes in what's going on globally with China, I think it's important that our students have an opportunity to study the language and culture of China as well."

Chinese expansion

Chiro says the school hopes to bring in a second teacher next year so that even more students can take the classes. Ashland officials are even inviting about two dozen Chinese teenagers to come study at the school. The goal is to give Ashland students the chance to experience diversity.

"For our students to be able to be comfortable in multi-ethnic, multi-cultural situations which will be their worlds as they're entering the work force, we have to figure out ways of kind of making that happen," says Di Chiro.

The Confucius Classroom program is expanding elsewhere, too. The program is now offered in more than 50 other schools and universities across the United States and around the world, in more than three dozen countries including Argentina, Pakistan, Kenya and Russia.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid