Incoming 8th graders have a wide variety of courses to choose from, a list that is expanding yet again for the 2019-2020 school year. Sadly, it seems that this expansion also comes with the removal of the Chinese program. While that may seem minor for some who haven’t experienced the class first hand, having taken Chinese for four years I believe it will certainly impact the school for the worse.
It is common knowledge that China is a growing power with a massive influence on our economy, so why would we eliminate it from the program of studies? Sure, it can be blamed on budget cuts and lack of enrollment, but even so, that felt weird to me as I spoke at the committee meeting in the middle of the brand new library, alongside nearly twenty other Chinese students and even more parents and teachers who came out to speak on behalf of the program. Needless to say, there is a strong opposition to this removal, which evokes the question of enrollment.
In seventh grade I was dead set on taking Chinese, only because I was encouraged to by my sister. This is a common theme in students who take Chinese: they tell their family and friends that they should definitely take the class. This makes me wonder how the enrollment can possibly be low enough to remove Chinese, with all the extra encouragement from family and peers.
The problem is that the incoming eighth graders don’t have enough exposure to Chinese, and are not really encouraged to take it because of the difficulty—mind you they are being told this by people who haven’t even experienced the class. Ask anyone who takes Chinese and you will hear only great things. Even worse, Ms. Wu, the one and only Chinese teacher here at BHS, has wanted to visit the Intermediate school and give them information about the class, but was discouraged. If Ms. Wu can’t promote the language, a language we are barely taught about by seventh grade, then how do you expect students to enroll in the class? Spanish and French are both languages that we are much more informed about, but I would bet that the only thing that most seventh graders know about China is that there’s a great wall. Having little information about the background of the language combined with the little to no known incentive to take the class, enrollment figures to be down.
However, with a little promotion, and more informed students and teachers helping other students pick their schedule, I think the amount of students taking Chinese each year would skyrocket.
Still, enrollment numbers don’t change the fact that there are over one billion Mandarin-Chinese speakers worldwide, and that Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world. By taking away Chinese we would be taking away the option for students to have a major advantage in life as they search for any job, specifically business related ones. China is now the second biggest economic power in the world, and will continue to grow. There is no doubt that learning Chinese will be a major help in the coming decades, and it would be illogical to take this opportunity away from future students.
If the administration wants to give BHS students the best opportunity they can, they will do whatever in their power can to improve this program, not remove it.