Letter: Grad supports HHS ChineseLast week, Ray Hornung wrote about how relevance was important in deciding to teach a language. My question is, how could Mandarin Chinese, the most spoken language on the planet, spoken in the world’s fastest growing and second largest economy, not be a relevant language to teach?
By: John Urban, Hudson, HHS class of 2007, Hudson Star-Observer
Last week, Ray Hornung wrote about how relevance was important in deciding to teach a language. My question is, how could Mandarin Chinese, the most spoken language on the planet, spoken in the world’s fastest growing and second largest economy, not be a relevant language to teach?
Jobs are easily found in strong economies, something the present economy is not. Most people seem to agree that incurring a trillion plus dollars in debt funded by China (better known as a federal bailout) is the answer. That reason alone should be grounds for every American child to learn Chinese. Now.
While a dearth of qualified Chinese teachers poses a problem, deciding to never offer Chinese is a poor method of developing future Chinese teachers or effective members of a global community. To be a responsible member in this community, we cannot expect the world to learn English while we stand pat. The present cost of these teachers will pay dividends in the lives of the students in the future.
I have studied Mandarin Chinese at UW-Madison for five semesters, including last summer at Nankai University in China. Many Chinese do not speak much English and they opened up to me much more when I spoke to them in Chinese, albeit broken Chinese.
When I heard the Hudson School District was offering Chinese, I was thrilled. By offering it at the high school, students can see that it is not impossible to learn. Teaching it at the elementary school level is brilliant because youngsters are much more conducive to language acquisition than adults, even college students like myself. After one and a half years of Chinese (equal to five semesters), I am still not fluent! However, according to Mr. Hornung’s numbers, I should be fluent in an “easier” language like Spanish, especially after my four years taken in high school. Yet this is also not the case.
And for the record, Chinese characters do have “commonality.”
I applaud the school district and community for their foresight. Young Hudsonites will have an amazing scholastic opportunity come September. Their worlds will be opened to a challenging, intricate language and the fascinating history that accompanies it. This will not only put Hudson on the map, but it will also eventually put Hudsonites on the world map.
Good luck, students!