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District 128 decides to add Mandarin Chinese

Focus on people skills, not differential equations

December 2, 2010

The Community High School District 128 School Board recently approved the addition of Mandarin Chinese to its international language department curriculum.

Sections of the course will be offered at both Libertyville High School and Vernon Hills High School beginning in the 2011-12 school year. Mandarin Chinese will join Spanish, French, German and Latin at Libertyville and Spanish, French and German at Vernon Hills. The two schools will likely share the instructor, something not uncommon in the department. Registration for the upcoming school year begins in second semester.

The Chinese I course will serve as an introduction to Mandarin Chinese. Students will learn basic listening, reading and speaking skills. They will also use simplified characters and be made aware of traditional characters; will use the phonetic transliteration system; and will study Chinese society and cultural topics. The curriculum for all foreign languages follows the five C's: communication, culture, comparing cultures, connections with other cultures and communities.

Freshman, sophomore and junior students were polled regarding the international language department and students expressed high interest in pursuing Chinese, said Thelma Krupp, international language department chair at Libertyville High School.

"I think students realize, as our country does, China is a huge player in the economic world," said Deb Larson, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, adding offering Chinese will provide students an advantage in their future.

Cheryl Steffens, international language department chair at Vernon Hills High School, said offering Chinese will help the departments expand beyond just offering European languages.

"We're trying to allow students a choice of languages to allow them to interact in the future," she said.

The departments will regularly review the levels of Chinese offered and it will likely eventually have four levels, as do the other languages offered.

"Globalization is a reality and I think we're just trying to meet the needs of our students," Krupp said.

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