Native Mandarin Speaker to serve as Authentic Cultural Resource at Local School
LEONARDTOWN, Md. - Ms. Laura Carpenter, St. Mary's County Public Schools' supervisor of instruction for gifted and talented programs, has been selected as one of the first to host a native Mandarin-speaking teacher as part of the Chinese Guest Teacher Program. Thirty six teachers will be placed across 20 states in both school and district assignments to teach at the high school, middle school, and elementary school level starting this month. By 2009, the program will bring 250 qualified teachers from China to teach in American classrooms for up to three years.
St. Mary's County Public Schools welcomed Ms. Zhijun Peng on January 26, 2007. Ms. Peng, who is from the city of Kunming in the Yunnan province of the southern region of China, will begin teaching a Mandarin Chinese and Culture program in three schools in the district. Ms. Peng spent 10 years at the Kunming University of Science and Technology teaching the English language.
The Chinese Guest Teacher Program is sponsored by Hanban, China's Office of Chinese Language Council International, in partnership with the College Board. Teacher stipends are being paid by Hanban while local high schools provide housing, transportation and administrative fees (for visa processing and required health insurance). Guest teachers are screened and interviewed by the College Board for pedagogy, classroom management, language skills, and cultural tolerance.
The program represents a unique opportunity for students and educators to learn Chinese and learn about China from a native speaker. St. Mary's County Public Schools will start a new Chinese program during the 2007-2008 school year. In addition, guest teachers will assist with curriculum development, student recruitment, and materials development, and will serve as a cultural resource for other subject areas and for cultural enrichment activities.
The guest teacher will work with the school system for 18 months, and then renew for an additional year if both the school system and teacher are satisfied. The Chinese Guest Teacher Program seeks to address the shortage of qualified Chinese teachers in the U.S. and meet the growing interest in Chinese among U.S. high school students. The next group of up to 100 teachers will arrive in August 2007.
"Recognizing that Chinese is the most widely spoken first language in the world, we want to give our students every opportunity to compete in the global workforce," said Dr. Michael J. Martirano, superintendent of St. Mary's County Public Schools. "We are making real world connections for our students."
In an Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) survey conducted in 2004, nearly 2,400 high schools expressed an interest in offering the AP Chinese course in 2006-07, but for many of these schools, this goal may go unrealized. They either are understaffed or have no teacher of Chinese, and many see no prospect of finding the teachers necessary to build their programs. This increasingly common predicament underscores the shortage of qualified teachers of Chinese in the United States. According to the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools, there are currently only about 250 Chinese language teachers in U.S. secondary schools.
"We are pleased to enable more American students to learn the Chinese language, discover the vibrant culture of China, and participate more fully in the cultural exchange between our two countries," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "More than 200 million children in China are studying English, yet only 24,000 children in the United States are studying Chinese. In addition, China's tremendous economic growth will create new opportunities and challenges for our country. It's time that we offer a twenty-first-century choice to our students."
Chinese is the national language of the more than 1.3 billion inhabitants of China and millions more ethnic Chinese around the globe. Chinese will top English as the most-used language on the Internet by 2007 according to forecasts by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Established by the Chinese government in 1987, Hanban is the nation's official agency authorized to promote Chinese language and culture internationally, fulfilling a function similar to that of the UK's British Council and France's Alliance Française. For more information on the Chinese Guest Teacher Program, contact Ms. Caren Scoropanos with the College Board at 212-713-8052 or cscoropanos (at) collegeboard.org.