UConn to train teach­ers to of­fer Man­darin Chi­nese

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - News - By Linda Conner Lam­beck

Start­ing in Jan­uary, the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut will of­fer what is be­lieved to be the state’s only full teacher prepa­ra­tion pro­gram in Man­darin Chi­nese.

“We are ex­cited,” Sarah Barzee, chief tal­ent of­fi­cer for the state Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, said Wed­nes­day as the pro­posal was fast­tracked through the state Board of Ed­u­ca­tion for unan­i­mous ap­proval.

UConn would in­clude Man­darin in what of­fi­cials say is a ro­bust world lan­guage pro­gram that al­ready turns out teach­ers of French, Span­ish, Ger­man, Ital­ian and Latin.

The pro­gram would start small, with three to five stu­dents per class in each of the first cou­ple of years.

It will take five years for stu­dents to go through the tra­di­tional in­te­grated bach­e­lor-master de­gree pro­gram or a year and a sum­mer to go through a Teacher Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Pro­gram for Col­lege Grad­u­ates.

Can­di­dates in the TCPCG pro­gram will need a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in Chi­nese or the equiv­a­lent.

The plan is for UConn to start mar­ket­ing the pro­gram this sum­mer. Its cre­ators said they ex­pect cur­rent stu­dents at UConn may be can­di­dates for it.

Chi­nese is the fourth most preva­lent non-English lan­guage spo­ken at home. It is also the fourth most taught for­eign lan­guage in schools across the coun­try, with more than 227,000 stu­dents en­rolled, ac­cord­ing to Michele Back, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor in UConn’s Neag School of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Joe Vrab­ley, a board mem­ber and owner of a steel pro­cess­ing com­pany in Glastonbury, called Man­darin Chi­nese one of the ma­jor lan­guages in the busi­ness world.

Find­ing cer­ti­fied teach­ers in the sub­ject, how­ever, re­mains an is­sue. Many dis­tricts, Back said, will em­ploy na­tive speak­ers as tem­po­rary hires to of­fer in­struc­tion.

“We saw pre­par­ing teach­ers to teach Man­darin Chi­nese as a big need for schools in Con­necti­cut and we look for­ward to ful­fill­ing that need,” Ann Traynor, di­rec­tor of ad­vis­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion at the Neag School, said.

World lan­guage teach­ers are on the state’s list of crit­i­cal short­age ar­eas.

The state’s Of­fice of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion’s Al­ter­nate Route to Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of­fers a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram for Chi­nese in­struc­tion, but UConn will be the only tra­di­tional higher ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram in the state to of­fer it, state of­fi­cials said.

Katie Moirs, a pro­gram ap­proval co­or­di­na­tor for the state, told the state board the one is­sue her team of eval­u­a­tors had was to make sure UConn had the right fac­ulty to de­velop the pro­gram.

“Man­darin Chi­nese is not a ro­mance lan­guage. It is not as easy to learn as Ital­ian or Span­ish,” Moirs said. “They brought in some very im­pres­sive re­sumes of na­tive speak­ers of the lan­guage.”

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