Letter to the Editor: Expand the Mandarin language program in our schools

Thursday, March 8, 2018

To the Editor:

Five years ago our daughter started learning Mandarin. She was randomly assigned to an elementary school during our year in Massachusetts that offered 45 minutes of Mandarin instruction four days a week for every student.

She was in third grade and nervous about learning a new language. Over that year, however, she grew to enjoy learning Mandarin. Then, when we moved to Shoreline the following year, she asked to continue to learn it.

Unfortunately, Mandarin was not offered in her otherwise excellent Shoreline elementary school, so we turned to private group lessons offered as a before school program.

We hoped she could begin taking Mandarin at Kellogg Middle School, but we were informed that not enough students ever sign up to justify a class. Shorewood High School offers Mandarin, but now we have learned that those classes too will soon end because of low enrollment.

Our daughter is learning a lot from her private teacher, but these efforts can’t substitute for a regular school course, which appears out of reach until she goes to college.

In a community as diverse as Shoreline, in a state that counts China as its largest trading partner, it’s inconceivable that children here must wait until college to study Mandarin, which requires many years to achieve fluency.

Shoreline Public Schools shouldn’t assume that low enrollment for Mandarin reflects a lack of interest. Sometimes kids don’t know they’re interested until they’ve tried it first. Our daughter’s Massachusetts elementary school offered Mandarin to all of its students without waiting for parents to demand it. I’m not sure it’s a language our daughter would have tried without this exposure.

This is why we support expanding the Mandarin Language program in Shoreline Public Schools.

John and Mary Ann Higgins


Anonymous,  March 9, 2018 at 1:47 PM  

Why don't they offer ANY language early in elementary school? (and when my child was at Room 9 they did have a parent teaching - I'm not sure if it was Mandarin or Cantonese but it was a well-attended group)

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