Updated: Thursday, 09 Apr 2009, 6:35 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 09 Apr 2009, 6:35 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The
International School of Indiana brought a new
educational concept to Indianapolis 15 years ago. That's when it
began teaching students primarily in French and Spanish.
Now, the school brings another first for the state. It is about to immerse kids in the most widely spoken language in the world; Mandarin Chinese.
Mandarin is the official language of China and Taiwan. Students who enroll in the private school program will spend half their day learning in Chinese, the other half in English.
Head of School David Garner expects that a diverse mix of families, including Chinese-American families will enroll.
"There is a wonderfully vibrant and highly educated Chinese community in Indianapolis. They're essential to the life sciences industries here," Garner said.
He said teaching Mandarin is a way for his school to prepare students for the 21st century global economy.
At the IUPUI Confucius Institute, which promotes Chinese language and culture, Director Zao Xu is thrilled to hear Mandarin will be taught to young children. China is the second largest trading partner with the U.S. behind Canada.
"The kids can find a job in China, you know in Hong Kong," said Dr. Xu.
Dr. Xu admits learning the language will be a challenge. Students will have a thousand or two characters to master.
Initially this pilot program will only begin in kindergarten. If it proves to be popular, the school said it will continue through elementary school and perhaps through middle and high school.