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New Post 29-6-2009 16:34
  shuai
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Parents to ask B.C. school district to consider Mandarin immersion 

Parents to ask B.C. school district to consider Mandarin immersion

mandarinchinese

A group of parents in Richmond, B.C., will be taking a proposal for Mandarin immersion to the school board on June 29.

Richmond is a predominantly Chinese Vancouver suburb, where more than half the population speaks a Chinese dialect.

The parents, who call themselves Mandarin for B.C. Schools, Richmond Committee, want the board to consider a program that is accessible to all students, no matter what their ethnic or linguistic background.

If successful, it would be the first school district in British Columbia to offer a Mandarin immersion program, though Edmonton and San Francisco offer similar programs.

Richmond school board chair Linda McPhail said it's an intriguing idea but admitted she has reservations.

She said she doesn’t know how many people would be interested in the program, and wondered how the details would come together.

"Can you get teachers? It's quite problematic across the province for specialist teachers, especially in French immersion; we've been dealing with this for the last couple of years. So can you get Mandarin immersion teachers? What's the curriculum? What are the resources? Are they available?"

According to the group's proposal, "Richmond children will be most successful if they have the ability to communicate and understand the fellow citizens of our city."

Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world. The proposal argues early Mandarin education makes sense as it is one of the most challenging languages to learn and children have an easier time learning languages when they are young.

The group is hoping for the program to begin in September 2010, with both kindergarten and Grade 1 admissions.

The program would "include the requisite exposure to French," and children will continue to learn English.

Sarah Dakin, a non-Mandarin-speaking parent in Richmond, would consider enrolling her children if the proposal is implemented.

"I think if they have a cultural understanding of the Chinese, I think it would help them with colleagues at work, or neighbours down the street," Dakin said about her children, Tristan and Liam Rendell.

"I want to learn [Mandarin], it would be nice for me to learn another language,” said Tristan.

Patrick Kam told CBC News he hopes the program is in place in time for his now one-year-old daughter to start.

"Like my parents who immigrated to Canada to give us a better life, who knows if the tables might turn? We might immigrate back to Asia to give her a better opportunity, right?"

Critics of the proposal, like Glen Heredia, asked where the resources would come from.

Heredia has been campaigning against the proposal by writing letters to the editor in local newspapers.

"Tax money should go to fund everything equally, and not just a certain section of society or particular community," he said.

The proposal notes that a Mandarin program would be ineligible for government funding, so a "not-for-profit parent group" would fundraise to support the program.


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