Friday, January 22, 2010

Chinese and other language courses increase in heartland-state middle and high schools

The number of foreign-language courses offered in middle and high schools across the country has been steadily declining over the last decade, but a new survey shows a rush by schools in all parts of America to offer instruction in Chinese. Some of the schools are paying for the courses on their own, Sam Dillon of The New York Times reports, but others are taking advantage of a program funded by the Chinese government that sends teachers to the U.S. and pays part of their salary.

The trend isn't limited to coastal metropolitan areas. The survey shows "many schools have started Chinese programs in heartland states, including Ohio and Illinois in the Midwest, Texas and Georgia in the South, and Colorado and Utah in the Rocky Mountain West," Dillon writes. "The mushrooming of interest we’re seeing now is not in the heritage communities, but in places that don’t have significant Chinese populations," Chris Livaccari, an associate director at the Asia Society, told Dillon.

The share of the 27,500 middle or high schools with at least one foreign-language course offering Chinese rose to 4 percent from 1 percent between 1997 and 2008, Dillon reports. The survey, conducted by the Center for Applied Linguistics and funded by the Education Department, also reveals the number of students taking the Advanced Placement test in Chinese, introduced in 2007, will likely pass German as the third most-tested language this year. (Read more)

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