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New Post 2010-04-27 12:35
  ChineseTime
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Grant goes to Chinese Courses 

Grant goes to Chinese Courses

From: desmoinesregister.com

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In Iowa, only 2.6 percent of public and private high schools offer Chinese courses, said Helen Shen, an associate professor and coordinator of the U of I Chinese program. The $100,000 grant will support some of the tuition for a Chinese-language summer institute for junior high and high school students on the university's campus.

The grant is supported by Startalk, an initiative launched by the White House in 2006 to promote the teaching and learning of strategically important languages that are not now widely taught in the United States.

The U of I department of Asian and Slavic languages and literatures and the U of I Confucius Institute will jointly offer the courses in July. Registration is under way.

The program includes language lessons, hands-on activities such as culture workshops, performances, visits with local Chinese families and virtual tours of China.
A three-credit, four-week Intensive Beginning Chinese course is open to 25 high school students. The grant covers $550, or about 70 percent of tuition, for each student. The day-program format is geared toward local students, Shen said.

Registration for the class closes April 30, Shen said.

A noncredit Chinese-language camp is open to 20 junior high students. The two-week residential program is open to students statewide. The grant will cover $1,000, or about half of tuition.
Registration for this class will be open until the class fills, Shen said.

Shen, who is the director of the summer institute, attributes the gap in Iowa to a lack of availability of Chinese-language teachers, and to a feeling that Chinese is not as important as some other languages, she said.

"Currently, I think they focus more on European languages, but there is a trend now that parents believe their children should be exposed to Asian languages, too," Shen said.
That is a good thing, she said.

The Chinese language has been deemed one of the world's critical languages by the U.S. Department of Education.

That is for good reason, Shen said. The Chinese economy is surging, and partnerships are being formed between the superpowers.

"The importance is that Chinese language is one of the critical languages. We need many students to know the Chinese language and understand Chinese culture, so when they go to the job market they can function appropriately and be competent in the job market," Shen said.


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