US chil­dren take to Man­darin to im­prove job prospects

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

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.

Lan­guage camp

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

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