Mesa is teaching Mandarin
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 12, 2005

JJ Hensley
The Far East is coming to the East Valley.

Mesa Public Schools is offering a course in Mandarin Chinese this fall for Mesa high school students and community members. For Mesa students, the two-semester course can satisfy some foreign language requirements. For Mesa residents, learning the language can prove an invaluable commodity in the global economy, said Liana Clarkson, the district's world language resource specialist.

"China is a sleeping giant that is going to wake up," Clarkson said. "If we aren't there when the alarm sounds, we will be left behind."

More than 800 million people in China speak the Mandarin dialect, which is considered the country's official language. With the global economy bringing American and China continually closer, knowledge of Mandarin Chinese should prove invaluable to today's high school students, Clarkson said.

The course is the first of its kind in Mesa Schools since the district offered Japanese 16 years ago. At the time, Japan had an economic relationship with the United States similar to China's today.

"Students who went through that program have found themselves working in politics and business and many have lived in Japan," she said.

The Chinese course will give students a rudimentary knowledge of reading, writing and the language, Clarkson said. If they go through both semesters, they should be able to understand vocabulary related to family, school, weather and time and ask and answer simple questions.

The course is offered from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., beginning Sept. 7 and continuing on Mondays and Wednesdays through May in room 909 at Poston Junior High, 2433 E. Adobe, in Mesa. The cost is $150 per semester, and students who don't attend Mesa Public Schools are required to purchase books. For information, contact Clarkson at (480) 472-0268.