From the Daytona News-Journal-
DELTONA -- Joseph Negron is only a high school freshman, but already has his sights set on attending the University of Florida and hopes learning Chinese will help him win admission to the highly competitive school.First how is a the the official language of the world's most populous nation exotic? Standard Mandarin is also spoken heavily in countries other than the People's Republic of China.
"It's one of the best languages to help me get in," said Negron, one of 24 students taking Pine Ridge High School's first Mandarin Chinese course this semester.
The Deltona school -- which also offers Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish -- is part of a growing number of American high schools offering Chinese and other "exotic" languages.
"It really is an explosion of interest in Chinese programs," said Marty Abbott, director of education for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. "It really is the language to add right now.
"People are looking ahead and thinking the Chinese economy is going to be the economy to compete with in the 21st century," Abbott said.
Her organization based in Alexandria, Va., estimates between 30,000 and 50,000 American high school students are now enrolled in Chinese classes, compared to 5,000 at the start of the new century.
I'm all for the teaching of foreign languages in languages. Actually I think they should be taught far before a child is in secondary school. When it comes to speaking a second language, Americans lag far behind the rest of the world. Just take the nation of my wife's birth, The Philippines. English is taught in grade school. An American in that country can easily converse with over 90% of the population.
Other nations in Europe and Asia teach English at an early age. I think American schools would be wise to emulate this practice of teaching a foreign language at a young age. Whether it is Chinese, Spanish, Arabic or several others. Our children may well grow up needing the ability to speak other than English. One day there may be more English speakers in the PRC than the USA.
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