March 4, 2012

Article: Santa Barbara Schools Offer Online Mandarin Language Class


Teaching Chinese in the Digital Age
S.B. Schools Offer Online Mandarin Language Class
By Kevin Zambrano
February 26, 2012

Given China’s ever-growing presence in international politics and economics, schools across the country are beginning to embrace the teaching of Mandarin Chinese. Their hope is that proficiency in the language can lead to future career opportunities for students. Mandarin, in fact, claims more native speakers — nearly a billion and counting — than any other language. Now, in Santa Barbara, 45 students from five local schools have begun taking a high-tech class in Mandarin this semester. With the addition of this new course, Santa Barbara students will converse on a global scale and interact as a digital community.

A national survey conducted by the Center for Applied Linguistics found that, across the board, opportunities for learning a foreign language in elementary and secondary school have been decreasing — except with Chinese. Exact figures are unknown, but the survey, financed by the Department of Education, estimated that 1,600 American schools are teaching Chinese, up from 300 just a decade ago.

According to the Modern Language Association, the study of languages other than English is increasing in institutions of higher education as well. A survey report published by the MLA in 2010 found that just under 61,000 students are enrolled in Chinese language courses in colleges across the country, up from 34,000 in 2002.

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