If you have ever walked passed the Chinese room on the first floor, you have probably heard girls chanting Chinese rhymes and poems or the distinct and infamous sound of “name chooser.” Even if you haven’t, you probably have classmates and friends who are currently in Chinese. For the last four years, the Chinese program has only had one teacher to teach five years of curriculum.
I believe that the Chinese program should not only have more than one teacher, but should also facilitate higher level Chinese courses such as 5 Honors and an in-school AP class. It should at least be given equal footing with the other languages.
This year, the Chinese program has 62 girls (a record number) and only has one teacher to instruct them. There are 125 girls taking French with three teachers and 251 girls taking Spanish with six teachers. In addition, only 50 girls are in Latin, however, they have two teachers. Proportionally, the one Chinese teacher is spread among too many students in comparison to Latin, French and Spanish. It is simply not being given the same resources as the other languages.
Spanish, French and Latin all have in-school AP courses and elective courses available. When I heard that AP Chinese was only offered as an online course, I was tremendously disappointed as language should be interactive, not something learned virtually. In addition, if a class were to be offered next year, the School requires at least six girls from the current Chinese 4 Honors class to sign up in order for the course to run.
Chinese has a reputation for being one of the most complex languages and in order to have a rudimentary conversation, one must memorize thousands of characters. Moreover, pronunciation is ingrained into the structure of the language and determines the meaning. Learning grammar online is not the most ideal situation. Without an opportunity to have immediate feedback as you would get in class, mastering the pronunciation or grammar would be extremely difficult.
Not only do the other languages have AP courses, but the department has also made changes to the curriculum to add elective classes, including Spanish film and French culture. Chinese has none of these classes available because there aren’t enough instructors.
In conclusion, the disparity of resources among the languages should be addressed by the School in order to better support the Chinese language students in any way possible. π