CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Ten Chinese guest teachers who are teaching their native language to West Virginia students were the special guests of the West Virginia Board of Education during its December meeting. The teachers also participated in the West Virginia Department of Education’s Annual Staff Holiday dinner, where they sang traditional carols in Chinese.
The teachers are working in nine West Virginia counties as part of a project with The College Board, which administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Advanced Placement exams, to introduce students to the Chinese culture and language. Four other Chinese natives are working in West Virginia schools through other programs. Former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton heads The College Board. The project also ties into West Virginia’s effort to promote global awareness and 21st Century Learning.
“Providing our children with the opportunity to understand the Chinese language and culture will give them a better chance of succeeding in the 21st century,” said Board Member Lowell Johnson. “If our children are to be competitive in today’s global society, studying foreign languages, especially Chinese, is essential.”
With China poised to become the next global economic superpower, policymakers say it’s essential that American schools expand their Chinese studies. More than 200 million children in China study English, but only 24,000 American students study Chinese. In West Virginia, Chinese is now taught in Barbour, Cabell, Harrison, Kanawha, Lincoln, Mason, Monongalia, Putnam and Wood counties.
For more information, contact Amelia Davis Courts, executive director of the WVDE’s Office of English as a Second Language/International Schools, at (304) 558-2691, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.