Chinese-language classes to be taught at Walnut Hills Elementary School

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 12:24 pm on Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chinese language classes at a glance

Benefits of learning a second language:
• Greater grasp of the English language
• Increased memory and problem-solving skills
• Higher standardized test scores
• Greater opportunities for college and careers
• Appreciation of other cultures with a greater world view
• Gives brains a “boost”
• Natural sounding, native-like accent

Why Chinese?
• One-fifth of the planet speaks Chinese
• China is the second largest economy in the world
• China is one of the largest trading partners of the United States
• Many companies do business in China and have long-term investments there

Source: Greenville Public Schools

Kindergarteners at Walnut Hills Elementary School in Greenville will have the option to start learning the Chinese language starting in the fall.

Greenville Public Schools (GPS) has received a $26,000 grant from College Board in partnership with Hanban/Confucius Institute in Chine to help fund two teachers to teach Chinese language to students.

One teacher will be teaching two sections at Walnut Hills Elementary School for half the day while one will be split between the middle and high school to teach Chinese as an elective.

“This is very exciting for our kids,” Board of Education President Janet Ralph said.

Assistant Superintendent Diane Brissette said the language will be taught to students by using the language in an everyday matter.

While some subjects, such as language arts, will be taught in English, others such as mathematics will be taught in Chinese. This will help incorporate the language into the students’ lives.

Administrators from Greenville traveled to Farwell Area Schools to see how the program has been implemented in that district, Brissette said they could not believe what they saw.

“Students were counting, singing and talking in Chinese,” she said and added while they are learning in Chinese, the students were also using their Chinese names.

When the program started in Farwell, Brissette said they started with 25 students, now they have doubled.
“What’s the signup goal (for GPS)?” asked Ronald Billmeier, secretary of the Board of Education.

Superintendent Pete Haines said the goal is to have two groups of 22 students for a total of 44 students for the first year.

The teachers will be coming from China to teach the programs at Greenville and have the option to stay for up to three years. However, after three years, the teachers have to return to China and new teachers will take their place.

Brissette said she hopes the program will expand in the future.

“We know they learn (languages) at a younger age,” Ralph said. “This is our opportunity for that.”

An informational meeting on this subject will be held at Walnut Hills Elementary School at a later date.

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