Sunday, September 09, 2012
Here's something I didn't know about - a county in Georgia has just begun enacting mandatory Mandarin courses from grades 1 to 12. I don't have much to add to the NPR article and podcast on it except that the future of this really depends on the implementation. Having aid from the Confucius Institute should make it a much easier process than otherwise, and the teachers are not expensive to hire.
The superintendent is often asked why he has chosen to make Mandarin mandatory instead of Spanish in a county where the Hispanic population has doubled over the last census period, and his answer I find to be a bit lacking: that the county needs to concentrate on the future, not the past. A better argument: Spanish is the easier language to pick up through local exposure, whereas Mandarin is one that requires more active investment and attention if one wants to bring a full student population to functional fluency. No reason to imply that one language is the language of the past when demographics show that it clearly is not.
By the way, 150+ comments below.