One Thing on the Rise--A Need for Teachers of Chinese
With cuts all around us in education, it's interesting to see one field taking off. It is the hiring of teachers who know Chinese. Recognizing the growing power of China on the world stage, schools around the country and seeking to expand their programs, particularly in Mandarin, the main Chinese dialect.
But, they are not finding it easy to create these programs.There simply are not enough competent teachers around to teach the language.
For example, in Schenectady, New York, schools will require only a third of pupils in grades 5 and 6 to take Chinese because the district couldn't find instructors for all the students.
Programs to teach Chinese in grades K through 12 have almost tripled since 2004 to almost 800, according to the Asia Society and the College Board, two New York-based nonprofits. Given the fact that there are more than 97,000 public schools in the U.S., the new programs can readily be described as no more than a "drop in the bucket."
Educators are claiming that they've had insufficient time to prepare for this development. For example, Jacque Bott Van Houten, who oversees foreign languages for the Kentucky Department of Education was reported to say that "The need for Chinese has come to us in a flash.'' That's not quite accurate. Recognition of the growing importance of China has been with us for a couple of decades now. We simply have not taken the time to notice.
Further, the controversial No Child Left Behind Act adds to the problems. To get certification to teach Chinese in public schools, applicants need more than proficiency in the language. The requirements vary from state to state but all hinder the entry of Chinese speakers into the educational system. For instance iIn Kentucky, teachers need a bachelor's degree, they must pass a national examination for teachers, and they have to complete special classes tailored to Mandarin
Contrast that with the situation in China. There, efforts to teach English are literally everywhere. If you would like to see some of what is happening, take a look at a public education program on the streets in Chinese cities. http://www.labnol.org/internet/favorites/how-to-learn-english-in-china/1842/