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New Post 2/5/2010 1:27 PM
  ChineseTime
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Students learn Chinese-The language is future of commerce 

Students learn Chinese-The language is future of commerce

From recorderonline

The 1.3 billion people living in China present a tremendous marketing opportunity students attending Harmony Magnet Academy see as part of their future. To that end, many elected to study Chinese to fulfill their high school language requirement instead of Spanish or French.

Their teacher, Christina Lurz, says that is a very good thing for them to do.

“China is a big market,” she said. “If you sell one Coca Cola to each of 1.3 billion people that’s a lot of money.”
Or, if you sell one orange to each of the same number of people.

In the 2008-2009 fiscal, according to Claire Smith, director of Corporate Communications, Sunkist Growers, with a processing plant for juice in Tipton, shipped 4, 495, 045 cartons of California oranges to China, continuing successful marketing that began with a $500 million deal in 2000.

“Business is becoming global,” Smith said by telephone from Sunkist Corporate offices. “As much as you can compete in a global market place the better off you are. Now is the time for students to learn the language, while they are young.”

Porterville Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Val Staley travels around the world as part of an international school accreditation team. She has the opportunity to see what other schools have to offer, many of those schools are private and can cost students upward of $20,000 or more a year to attend.

In her travels to China, Staley said she always goes to stores and looks for boxes of oranges from Strathmore or Tipton.

“I always find some,” she said, excitement rising in her voice. “I get excited when I’m half way around the world and I see boxes from home. Yes, we live in Porterville, but we’re a part of the bigger world. The education we’re giving our kids in public school is comparable in quality to global, expensive private schools — and it’s free.”

Lurz, who agrees with that sentiment, encourages her students to be as absorbed in the language as possible — to use it every day. One wall in her classroom is full of phases in Chinese that one would use daily. For example, ‘May I go to the bathroom?’ is one of the phrases.  

“If a student needs to go, they have to ask in Chinese. If they don’t, I don’t care how much they have to go,” she said, smiling, “they have to use the daily language.”

A little more than two years ago Lurz was living in Taiwan with her family. There she taught English to the Taiwanese. Now she lives in Exeter and enjoys the challenges of the other side of the language coin.

So do her students, who openly discussed their individual motives for taking Chinese and their fondness for the language. Most of them are engineering students.

Keli O’Neal, 15, and Agustina Leon, 14, have their sights set on the future of business on foreign soil.

“I’m taking Chinese because I want to have a business overseas,” O’Neal said.

“I want to have a business all over the world,” Leon said.

Seth Hilliard, 14, has another reason.

“It’s different,” he said. “It’s not hard, you just have to get used to it.”

Growing comfortable with the language may call for more than a little effort. To read a Chinese newspaper, Lurz said, you need to know 5,000 Chinese characters.

She teaches a simplified form of the language, one that is conversational.

“Chinese is different in that there is not a lot of grammar,” Lurz said. “There are a lot of characters and the language is spoken in tones. Everyday conversation is important for them, especially since most of my students are engineering students. Think about it — engineering and Chinese. That means money.”


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