District of­fers Hindi lan­guage

Dal­las-area schools are first in na­tion to teach the lan­guage from sev­enth grade.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Deb­o­rah Fleck Dal­las Morn­ing news

Dal­laS — While many area schools have classes in Chi­nese and Ara­bic, the Hurst-Eu­less-Bed­ford school district of­fers an­other Asian lan­guage that’s not of­ten stud­ied: Hindi.

Plus, the district of­fers th­ese lan­guages not only in high school but start­ing in sev­enth grade.

“We wanted to give the stu­dents two more years to set a strong foun­da­tion through high school,” said Bha­vani Parpia, In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Ini­tia­tive co­or­di­na­tor.

The district be­came the first in the na­tion to im­ple­ment the In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Ini­tia­tive with Hindi lan­guage in­struc­tion start­ing in sev­enth grade, the Dal­las Morn­ing News re­ported. In Texas, it’s also one of only a few pub­lic school dis­tricts to of­fer Chi­nese start­ing in sev­enth grade.

“We’ve been lucky,” Parpia said. “We have a fan­tas­tic su­per­in­ten­dent who sees the big pic­ture. He gives me the OK to se­cur­ing fund­ing.”

Gene Buinger has served as su­per­in­ten­dent since 1999. He re­cently an­nounced his re­tire­ment, which will be ef­fec­tive in June.

Dur­ing his ten­ure, Buinger im­ple­mented the In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate pro­gram and the In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Ini­tia­tive. He also started sis­ter school pro­grams in Yichang, China, and Mus­soorie, In­dia, with plans to add a third one in the Mid­dle East. One group of stu­dents has al­ready vis­ited China, and an­other group will head to In­dia in March.

Buinger’s in­ter­est in global ed­u­ca­tion, com­bined with Parpia’s pas­sion for in­ter­na­tional lan­guage stud­ies, has led to stu­dent success. The district’s pass­ing rate on In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness ex­ams is 83 per­cent, which is higher than the U.S. pass­ing rate of 66.9 per­cent and the world pass­ing rate of 78.4 per- cent.

Stu­dents en­rolled in the Asian lan­guages pro­gram have a 100 per­cent pass­ing rate on the Hindi In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness exam and a 78 per­cent pass­ing rate on the Man­darin In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness exam. Ara­bic was in­tro­duced last year. The district started teach­ing Chi­nese and Hindi in 2007.

“We are cer­tainly head­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” Buinger said.

The district’s Asian lan­guage fo­cus has put it in the spot­light. Al Jazeera, an in­ter­na­tional me­dia com­pany, re­cently vis­ited Ta­mara Had­dad’s Ara­bic class at Cen­tral Ju­nior High.

As stu­dents con­versed in Ara­bic and learned about Morocco, a cam­era op­er­a­tor filmed the in­ter­ac­tion. Stu­dents demon­strated how to serve Moroc­can tea and then shared Moroc­can sweets.

Ab­der­rahim Foukara, head of Al Jazeera’s U.S. bureau in Washington, D.C., ac­com­pa­nied the cam­era op­er­a­tor and briefly spoke to the stu­dents.

“Now you will be fa­mous and fea­tured around the world,” Foukara said.

Stu­dents in the lan­guage classes are di­verse. The district said 72 lan­guages are spo­ken among its stu­dents.

Madonna Hanna, 14, said the Ara­bic class is her fa­vorite.

“Ev­ery­one talks in Ara­bic,” she said. “And Miss Had­dad is great.”

Par­ents’ sup­port for the Asian lan­guage classes has been grow­ing, Parpia said. She in­forms par­ents about the classes through meet­ings and of­fers sum­mer in­tro­duc­tory classes.

“I’ve had to turn par­ents away,” she said.

That’s un­like what hap­pened in the Mans­field school district last year when par­ents com­plained about in­cor­po­rat­ing Ara­bic into the cur­ricu­lum. The out­cry caused the district to amend its grant pro­posal for the pro­gram. The U.S. De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, which of­fers the For­eign Lan­guage As­sis­tance Pro­gram grant, then re­jected the re­vised pro­posal.

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