Chinese Class Offerings Expanded


World language teacher Lin Huang teaches junior Isabella Tabbenor, who took Chinese this year when it was first introduced into the language curriculum. Chinese course offerings will be expanded for the 2021-2022 school year.

Ethan Taylor, Intro Writer

As of 2021, Chinese classes will be offered from grades 8-12 as an elective or a core language class. After adding Chinese I and II class this past year, the department is now extending those courses to include younger students who are interested in taking the class.

“We’ve had a big donation from an anonymous family who wanted to see the program grow and become a core language that will fulfill the graduation requirements,” World Language Department Chair Vanessa Spallone said.

The class extension was added as the result of an ongoing increase in student interest. Chinese I and II were added to the curriculum offerings this past year.

“A lot of students last year when they heard about Chinese, this year, all wanted to enroll and I had to tell them that would not be possible because they were not juniors,” Spallone said.

One of these such students is current junior Isabella Tabbenor. She said that, if the class was available, she would’ve taken Mandarin in eighth grade.
“I chose to take Chinese because I was interested in the language and many of my friends speak it,” Tabbenor said. “In addition, I wanted to learn and understand the culture more so that I could be respectful and understanding to those who speak it.”

Spallone said that in order to maintain a good connection to the community, the language administration take frequent input from the open houses and base the availability of different classes on the requests of parents. These open houses are meant to allow for direct input and interaction between school administration and parents.

“Every year, we have several open houses on the weekends when we have prospective families visiting,” Spallone said. “I’m standing behind my world language booth that invariably the question would be, ‘do you offer Chinese?,’ which we didn’t.”

Many students last year specifically asked to be included in the Mandarin classes and were denied because the class was only available as an elective for grades 11-12. In order to fix the problem, the extension was added.

Spallone added that the language department is attempting to extend the number of language classes available in order to accommodate student interest. Over time, she hopes that the classes added to the curriculum will provide for a better overall student experience.

“I think it’s wonderful, you know, it’s not ‘the more languages, the better’ but it almost is,” Spallone said. “We’re building. We want to build a strong program.”

The course is designed to help students develop basic proficiency in speaking, with an emphasis on pronunciation, as well as listening, reading and writing in Mandarin Chinese.

Considering all the educational problems brought about by the pandemic, the language administration is continuing to encourage students to pursue dialogue-related classes.

“It’s important that students continue learning languages, just because we’re not traveling as much, we are still communicating very much through technologies, zoom, etc,” Spallone said. “So of course, it is more than ever important to be able to communicate so as to avoid isolation.”

Chinese language teacher Lin Huang agrees that interest in Chinese classes have surged due to international politics.

“There seem to be a lot of students interested in learning Chinese,” Huang said. “The school believes that Chinese is becoming more and more prevalent on the global stage, and it could benefit the students to learn it early.”