Increase in Chinese Language Programs

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Here’s a pretty interesting article published in the New York Times last January. Apparently, Chinese language is becoming more prevalent within American education while other traditional languages, like French and German, are getting cut from many curriculums.  Part of the increase can be attributed to the Chinese government, which is sending teachers to the United States and other countries AND covering half of their salaries.  Previously, Chinese was taught primarily on the East and West Coasts.  But in the article, Chris Livaccari of the Asia Society notes that Chinese programs are not expanding “in the heritage communities, but in places that don’t have significant Chinese populations.” Back in the 80s when Japan emerged as a major economic rival, Japanese programs picked up.  However, the interest has since declined.  I wonder if the same pattern will occur here since China’s global relevance is increasing or if the language programs will remain steadily in place. Spanish, though, is still overwhelmingly the most frequently taught language throughout elementary, middle and high schools.  My high school only offered Spanish, French and Latin, but I think that offering Chinese in several schools (particularly early on) will raise students’ linguistic and cultural knowledge to a country that many American curriculums gloss over.