Mandarin Chinese has quickly become one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, and a growing number of parents and students have been lobbying the College Station school board to teach the language in its two high schools.

A committee of seven mothers officially joined forces in February to collectively request the program, though this group and other parents have been lobbying the district since September.

A&M Consolidated and College Station High School currently offer Spanish, French, German and Latin, according to course catalogs.

Li Tian, a mother of two children, began reaching out to Superintendent Eddie Coulson in the fall, and met with him and four other parents in November. She said the superintendent explained the budget is tight, so a Chinese program is not a top priority for the district at the moment, a position he maintains now.

"Adding Chinese has not been a priority for us over the course of the past several years," Coulson said to The Eagle on Thursday. "We've instead emphasized building our dual-language program in the district. We've emphasized career and technology education courses, and obviously as we transition from one comprehensive high school to two, that has been an expensive piece for us, so our priorities really have been other places."

Those interested have not given up, though; Tian organized 22 parents and students to attend the board meeting in November, and similar numbers have attended the meetings in January and February. At each meeting, students, parents or both have spoken before the board to request the program, and they plan to continue to do so at the March 18 board meeting, Tian said.

The committee, largely led by Tian, has been gathering data to present to the district. She says since Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, students will only benefit from having Chinese as an option to study.

Kristen Cheng, a committee member who married a Chinese man and has two half-Chinese children, said the language is growing now the way Spanish exploded across the nation.

"A lot of my friends that are my age that graduated say, 'Oh I wish I had learned Spanish,' and I feel a very similar thing is happening now with Chinese," she said. "On a global scale the Chinese economy is exploding, the number of Chinese consumers is growing rapidly, so I see the same thing happening."

A growing number of districts in Texas have added Chinese as a foreign language option, including the Houston, Austin and Dallas districts.

One of these districts is College Station's neighbor in Bryan, which added a Mandarin Chinese class for sixth- and seventh-graders at a gifted and talented academy at Jane Long Middle School in 2009 and at Bryan High School in 2013. There is also a Chinese enrichment program at Johnson Elementary, according to a district spokesperson.

The district is referring the option for a Chinese program to the two campus improvement teams, which will evaluate the need and do research over the spring and fall, Coulson said. The teams will decide whether or not to make a recommendation to the district council in the fall.

Students are currently in the process of signing up for courses for the next school year, so if the teams determine need and make a recommendation to the board, the earliest a program could be implemented is the 2015-2016 school year, Coulson said.

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(19) comments

aggiefixer

I must be getting old... There was a time in America where English was REQUIRED to be spoken in America. I know that the politicians are wanting to get more votes and stuff like that, but, c'mon... Get with the program. It's really starting to get on my nerves that I am shelling out taxes, taxes, and more taxes for things I can't even read!!

Sylvain

English is one of the most adaptable languages for business. But seriously have you not yet heard of Rosetta Stone? No one is stopping anyone from learning another language, no reason that all must pay for a few to learn Chinese.

There are also free courses on the internet.

lawman6

no room for logic on these boards.


ha

A. Nerd

English is taught extensively in Chinese schools. Not knowing Chinese doesn't hinder any business opportunities for Americans because virtually all Chinese in business know English. If these moms were concerned about the most beneficial languages for their children, they would concentrate on Russian. Russia may be the only country in the world that doesn't teach English extensively, and therefore maintains a barrier between itself and the US.

Li Tian

The most practical purpose for a child to learn another language is to help the child to have better job opportunities in the future. Knowing a different language might just open up a door to the world for a child at some point.
For example, currently there are 20 A&M offered study abroad programs to China and there are 40 additional study abroad programs to China sponsored by other agencies to the A&M students. These programs include all kinds of areas and fields, like Biology, Chemistry, Petroleum Engineering, Double E, Economics, Finance, Government, Business, etc. I personally know some of the programs would have 10-20 students going. If on average there were 10 kids going on each of them, these would involve 600 students! If a student learned Chinese from high school, he or she would have an advantage here.

A. Nerd

Future job opportunities are dictated by math and science, not a remedial knowledge of 2-3 year of a foreign language. Add a second calculus class or organic chemistry if future job opportunities are the primary concern.

Cheboy

Actually, there are Chinese classes organized by the parents and volunteers every Sunday afternoon. However, it is different from those which will be at schools. The latter will provide more opportunities to learn Chinese culture and society for all the students. I think that is why many other districts have their Chinese class at schools.

Frank Sottile

The College Station School district does a good job educating its students with the resources available to them. In the increasingly interconnected world that our children will inherit, knowledge of other cultures and languages will assume a growing importance. Next to Spanish (for reasons of culture and geography), no other language and culture will be as useful for this future as is Chinese. I would like to see the CSISD begin offering Chinese language classes at its two high schools.

Li Tian

We understand our school’s budget situation and we are only asking for an internet program. Plano district has an internet program for their Latin language classes. Bryan has an internet program for their Chinese language classes. Internet programs will be part of the school education in the future and can be applied to many different subjects for willing students. It will save money on the long run.

A. Nerd

A&M offers Chinese classes that are available to CSISD students. When I was in HS, that's where we went if the district didn't offer a class we wanted. A good compromise would be for CSISD to give dual credit for the college classes. Seemed to work well a decade ago and didn't cost the district a ton of extra money to offer a class with limited demand.

lawman6

two words: Rosetta Stone

because

Did you or anybody you know, learn a foreign language via Rosetta Stone?
Especially a language like Chinese?

ftw

So many of our students don't master english, or many other subjects either for that matter. That combined with the 5.4 billion in budget cuts that were only partially restored should exclude any new curriculum, instead requiring the teachers to focus on the core subjects. It used to be the three R's, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. And there needs to be science too.

the real slim shady

If you want something special, you need to be willing to pay for it. Send them to private school and teach Sanskrit as a second language.

prairiegirl

So why don't these moms just start a free class somewhere in town and teach it themselves if it's so important to them?

Li Tian

We actually have a weekend Chinese language program, and TAMU offers some Chinese classes to our community. They are not free but very affordable. However these are very different from classes from our schools. Imagine those kids who are taking Latin, for example, have to take the class for two hours over each weekend. In school, they go the class for around one hour everyday, and then they have to finish homework and study for tests. The approaches make huge difference in the result.

prairiegirl

Frankly, I grew up in a district where language courses were considered 'electives'. That's the way it should still be. Making these kids learn a language they are most likely never going to need should not be a required course. My kids both took spanish in school for example. Neither one of them can speak it to this day though. My daughter took it for 3 years and my son for 5. They don't need it though and therefore they don't remember how. I find that to be a complete waste of some of their time in school that could have been better used for more important studies.

obasfirst

more important studies like what?

Li Tian

I can see your point, and I agree that the foreign languages should be offered but not required. On the other hand, the world is more and more a global village now, knowing another language might give a person some more advantages. Compared with 10 years ago, most universities now offer a lot more programs where students can go to another country for a summer field trip or study there for some time. Also a lot of companies have subdivisions in other countries. They need people from here to go to these subdivisions to manage business. In this sense, learning Chinese is probably a better choice compared with some other languages that indented mostly to local uses.

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