US children take to Mandarin to improve job prospects
LOS ANGELES — The 135year-old Castelar Elementary School in downtown Los Angeles never stops its efforts at academic diversification.
With a Mandarin language immersion program in full swing, the school says students of the Chinese language are becoming younger.
“The youngest students I have are the 5 years old, the ones in preschool. The younger they are, the faster they learn,” teacher Wendy Yang said.
Principal Wing Fong also noticed the advantage, saying that “when you learn at a very young age, you do not have that accent that older people have when they tend to learn the language.”
In Castelar, seven teachers give the Chinese lessons, attracting 300 to 350, or half of its total students.
The kindergarten teachers that teach Mandarin do not speak English in class, so the students can be immersed in the program.
In their class, children can recite Chinese ancient poems, name typical Chinese foods, start their speech by quoting the Chinese idiom, and even dance to the melody of Chinese pop songs.
I am trying to see if we can find a sister school, where we can exchange ideas.” Wing Fong, school principal
“I like learning Chinese, for it is interesting. You can speak in Chinese, and you can talk with Chinese people in their mother tongue,” student Alice said.
Yang said students start to learn Mandarin at a young age to help their future job prospects or even develop careers in China.
During the ongoing summer holiday, Castelar, the second oldest school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, joined hands with Loyola Marymount University for a two-week StarTalk Camp for immersed Mandarin learning.
It offers linguistic training through literature, arts and sports for about 120 students. The focus was on rediscovering the Silk Road, which was an international route to facilitate the ancient trade between China and European and African countries.
Castelar is one of the many