Say ‘ni hao’ to Mandarin

Chinese language offered starting next school year

Thomas Planera, News Writer

Nǐ hǎo, nǐ zhèngzài yuèdú de lǚxíng zhě.

That’s how you say “Hello, you are reading the Voyager” in Mandarin Chinese. In less than a year, some students will know how to say that.

Starting in the 2015-2016 school year, Mandarin Chinese 1 Honors, an introductory class to this very complex and intriguing language and culture, will be offered to all students.

H-F will be added to the list of local schools who teach Mandarin, including New Trier, Oak Park, Lyons Township, Thornton and Barrington. Marian Catholic will soon be adopting Mandarin as well.

According to World Language Department Chair Donna Sayler, Superintendent Von Mansfield was the one who proposed the class. This is the first time Sayler has started a new program.

“We are working with the junior high schools to set up a curriculum there,” Sayler said. “Eventually, we’ll have [Mandarin] 1 through 5 AP, but that will take five years.”

Mandarin CP will be offered in the future, according to Sayler.

So far, three people applied for the new teaching position but interviews have yet to be made.
“We hope it will be a full time position,” Sayler said.

Junior Maggie Danielian says often the failure and success of a class depends on the teacher.

“It depends on how passionate and how well of an understanding the teacher has of the language,” Danielian said.
The class will follow the standards of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and will be culturally based, according to Sayler.

Some students are welcoming towards the new Mandarin Chinese program.

“Chinese is spoken around the world, and teaching it will better incorporate us into the global spectrum,” junior Darius Slatton said.

Others like the idea of knowing the language itself.

“It’s different,” junior Zakkiyah Muhammad said. “[Speaking Mandarin is] something you can brag about.”
On the contrary, a handful of students aren’t excited about the new language.

“I’m opposed to H-F teaching Chinese because they’re taking other languages away, like Latin,” junior Alyssa Beverly said. “We need base languages like Latin and Greek so we can understand all the other languages. Why are there no other languages being brought in?”

Aside from the basic curriculum, the administrators are looking to start a Chinese club like the other languages have.
This club will “introduce the Chinese culture” and involve things like field trips and interaction with Chinese students to those who join, according to Sayler.

With the launch of this new class, students will hopefully gain insight on bigger issues as well.
China currently has the second largest economy in the world, and serves as one of America’s most powerful trading partners.

American companies such as Apple, Nike and the Ford Motor Company have already invested billions of dollars in the Chinese market.

“It’s always good to broaden your cultural knowledge base,” Sayler said. “Cultural knowledge is very valuable. It makes relationships easier. People have a better global understanding.”