Chinese classes helping SC students keep up with global economy

By Kelly Coakley - email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The ever-changing global economy is directly affecting South Carolina schools. To meet the demand statewide, 11 public schools offer Chinese as a foreign language.

Three of those schools are in Columbia. While most of us took french or Spanish, the future of foreign language in the classroom is now reaching even further.

In Chinese class at Hand Middle School, students learn both the language and the culture. Eighth-grader Amber Sutton is working on her future one Chinese phrase at a time. "There's a job you take and most colleges want you to have also a certain amount of specific language," said Sutton.

China may seem like a place far away on a map, but experts say that's really not the case anymore. "Our students in South Carolina are going to be competing in a global market," said Mark Bounds of the Department of Education. "The more we know about other cultures including China and especially China as a dominate one, the better our students will be."

Teacher Quian Yuan knows the value of learning a foreign language. She left China eight years ago to teach American students her native language. "I learned my English from an American teacher, and I think this is the return," said Yuan.
For now,Amber and her classmates make an investment education leaders hope will pay off in years to come. "Not only will there be employment opportunities, but it will help bring business to South Carolina," said Bounds. "So it will be a win/ win."
More districts plan to offer Chinese. Lexington One's new elementary school opening next fall will offer the language as part of its partial emersion program. A total emersion program is the focus of a new charter school in Cayce that also opens next school year.

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