Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Growth of Mandarin?

Sent to the NY Times, Nov 30
As evidence that "Non-Asians Show a Growing Interest
in Chinese Courses," (Nov. 29) and that "China may
have achieved a victory in American classrooms," the
Times reports that the student body of a bilingual Mandarin-English school in San Francisco is now 49 percent Asian-American, compared to 57 percent five years ago. The school informed me that their total enrollment is about 400. This means that the increase is only about 30 children.
Other cases reported by the Times also show only
modest increases and levels of interest in Mandarin. A
Mandarin heritage language school in New Jersey has
about 25 more non Asian-American children than they
did three years ago. Chicago?s enrollment in Mandarin
has increased from 250 to 6000 since 1999, but only
1.5% of Chicago public school students are now
studying Mandarin.
Declarations of "a victory in American classrooms"
should be based on stronger evidence.
Stephen Krashen


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