In Georgia: Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic, and Mandarin

The Bibb County school system has instituted a program designed to make Chinese-language instruction mandatory for all its students.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn


What's the Latest Development?

A county in Georgia has enacted a new language program that in three years will make Mandarin Chinese required learning for all students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. It's the latest in a series of changes designed to improve education across the system, which includes the city of Macon. This year, the program is restricted to the youngest students, with the nonprofit Confucius Institute supplying teachers directly from China. 

What's the Big Idea?

Bibb County superintendent Romain Dallemand believes in taking the long view: Today's students "will live in a world where China and India will have 50 percent of the world GDP...[and] they will pay a heavy price" if they can't compete. Needless to say, some parents object, not to the idea of mandatory language learning, but to the choice of language, with one parent saying, "While we do know that Mandarin is a critical language, another critical language here in the United States is Spanish." Another parent says that many Bibb County students "can't even speak basic English...Do you want to teach them how to say, 'Do you want fries with that?' in Mandarin?"

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