Recognizing that China is set to become the next global superpower and that Mandarin is the most-spoken language in the world, Capistrano Unified School District trustees approved what will be the county's first Chinese-English language program.
Those in the program, which starts next year, will begin their studies in kindergarten or first grade with up to 80 percent of the instruction in Mandarin. (And you think it's hard to understand your kids now?) More than 160 parents have signed a list expressing interest.
Similar immersion programs are in place throughout the state, mostly in the Bay Area. District trustees hope the curriculum will attract students from outside the district, which will bring in dollars. Capistrano Unified's current Spanish-English program is thriving, officials say. San Juan Capistrano Patch reports that by the time students leave the fifth grade, they are at grade-level in both languages.
Staffing the Chinese language program will be a challenge. Apparently, there are only 47 teachers in the state credentialed to teach in Chinese (note to new-career seekers). Also, there've been concerns that the district is trading laid-off teachers for new teachers.
But San Clemente parent Thalia Tong, who spearheaded the signature-gathering effort, lists the benefits of dual-language programs, noting that they improve overall school performance and test scores, provide an understanding of a different culture, strengthen brain development and lead to more career choices.
Now that's a 赢 (win).