Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Chinese Language Classes Moving Ahead

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Chinese Language Classes Moving Ahead

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

Duval County's first Chinese language program went to summer camp at Mandarin Oaks Elementary School this year.

Now the people behind the county's new Chinese Guest Teacher Program are preparing to say Huan ying hui jia!- Welcome back! - to those younger students at Mandarin Oaks, as well as return for a second year at Mandarin Middle and Mandarin High.

To prepare for the program at her school, Mandarin Oaks Elementary School Principal Patti Carson took a trip to China over the summer, touring Beijing and the Southwest provinces with 800 educators from around the country.

It was funded by the Chinese Language Council International and the College Board. She has lots she wants to pass along to tongxue zaijin (people who study together, or class) as new Chinese teacher Lei Xu joins her staff to teach the language and culture.

"I would never have the understanding that I do for the language, people and culture without seeing it for myself. It was just amazing," said Carson. "I can show them [students] my slides and talk to them about what I saw, and show the artifacts I brought back like the crafts artisans made, some I saw them make."

Lei Yang, the county's first Chinese guest teacher when he arrived at Mandarin Middle and Mandarin High a year ago, began acclimating the Mandarin Oaks students to his language and culture during the recent camp. He said the younger students should really take to Chinese as a language skill.

"It's a good thing. While kids are younger, it's easier to catch something new," he said.

"It's a really different language; a graphic language with Chinese characters. And writing Chinese characters can actually develop a kid's mental ability."

Yang was one of 30 Chinese teachers who came to the U.S. from overseas as part of the Chinese Guest Teacher Program last year, developed with Chinese officials to encourage growth of that country's education in American schools. …

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