The growing demand for children to begin learning a second (or sometimes third) language while still in grammar school has also taken hold of those communities that are reaching beyond traditional language offerings and asking for Chinese to be offered. In an effort to further a global community outreach program, the Chinese government is stepping in and offering large grants to schools that desire a Chinese language and culture program for their students and communities.
US China Today reported on the program, called the Confucius Classroom:
Confucius Classroom, a program from the Chinese government aimed at teaching high school students Chinese culture and language, is expanding rapidly around the world.
St. Mary’s, a private Catholic school with 400 junior high and high school students, was the first recipient in the Americas to receive a $50,000 grant from the Chinese Ministry of Education last August. They have since received $250,000 to cover, among other expenses, the stipends of both of their Chinese language instructors as well as community outreach programs. In addition to language and cultural education at St. Mary’s, the five-year old program also offers adult language classes open to the community, weekly Chinese instruction in elementary schools, and subsidized travel opportunities for students.
More and more schools are offering mandarin Chinese as a language program, and mostly it is only in private schools, but having an entire Chinese culture program that will include traveling and family and community programs is beyond simple language instruction.
There are only a handful of Chinese Classrooms established in the United States so far, but so far about 60 schools have applied for support. Prestigious private schools such as the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, Boston College High School and the Dalton School in Manhattan are among those which have applied for the program, according to Frank Phillips, the St. Mary’s headmaster
Dalton is one of the first NYC Private Schools to apply for a Confucious Classroom program.