One of the most difficult languages for native speakers of English to learn is Chinese, but that hasn’t deterred students from learning it. In fact, the Modern Language Association reports that between 2006 and 2009 the number of US college students learning Chinese increased by 18 percent. The interest in Chinese extends even down to students in elementary schools. Recently, 44 dedicated students from a Northern Virginia elementary school used Rosetta Stone TOTALe PRO to learn Chinese (Mandarin). After spending just two and a half hours a week over 12 weeks in the program, 75 percent of the learners increased their oral-proficiency skills by at least two levels.
While most students dream of putting their new language skills to use sometime in the distant future, four of these elementary school students had the opportunity to test their new skills in April when they were invited on a Rosetta Stone-sponsored trip to China. Parents were impressed with their children’s speaking abilities and their willingness to experience new things. After a few short days in China even the most cautious student dove into a bowl of duck tongue! Highlights of the trip included visiting the Great Wall, Olympic Park, Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square; experiencing historic China in Beijing and the new China in Shanghai; and connecting with locals in markets, private homes, a school, and a park, where the students took tai chi lessons for an afternoon. Now that’s how you beat jet lag!
Upon their return to school in the United States, these students have shown increased interest in learning Chinese with their classmates, and they’re back to their studies with an expanded worldview that will serve them well. With more than 845 million native speakers, and recognition as one of the six official languages of the United Nations, Chinese is an increasingly important language for student success in the twenty-first century.
Check out the video below with highlights from the trip!
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