Mandarin Chinese now offered at Fairmont

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Mandarin teacher, Chengcheng Ding, instructing the class on basic conversation terms.

Spoken by 845 million people, Mandarin/Standard Chinese ranks as the second most business useful language in the entire world, and is the number one most spoken language on the planet…and now, it’s able to be taken as a language at Fairmont High School.

Many students are taken aback by this due to its level of difficulty. They wonder how others take up the challenge.

“Maybe they are interested in Chinese culture, or the country China, ” Chengcheng Ding, Fairmont’s new Mandarin teacher, said. She explained that because Western and Eastern cultures differ so greatly, students may decide to take Chinese due to its being the only Eastern language offered, instead of a Western language like French, Spanish, German, or Latin.

Ding also believes that students who take Mandarin benefit from it greatly, later on in life. “When (students)…find a job, they will speak two languages; they can be a stronger candidate for the position they are interested in,” she said, “Also, the Chinese economy is growing and becoming very prominent, so there are more and more Chinese companies moving to the United States.” This provides even more job opportunities, Ding noted.

However, despite all the great chances Mandarin students are met with, they must put in some extra effort. On a scale of one to five, one being easiest and five most difficult, Mandarin falls in at four, according to Ding. 

“As I said, [Mandarin] is an Eastern language, so for students it is new,” Ding said, “A student sees a word in English, and they may say in French, Spanish, they have a similar pronunciation. So, they can say, ‘Oh, I know that word.’ But in Chinese it’s too different. That’s why it is so difficult.” Despite this, Ding believes that if students work hard, they can overcome these obstacles and succeed.

In addition, Mandarin class moves beyond the language. Students are able to immerse themselves in Chinese culture and experience new things, first hand.  They attend a number of field trips and celebrate multiple Chinese holidays and festivals.  

“In Chinese class, we don’t only learn the Chinese language in the textbook,”  Ding said, “…Because I teach Chinese culture and Chinese activities in class, they know it.  They experience it.  They get a chance to really understand it, outside of just being taught in class.”

Overall, Chinese students are offered a distinctive set of circumstances in learning a new language and culture; they are presented with a variety of opportunities later on in life that will benefit them greatly in the workplace.  They are able to have a good time while they learn, and have a new perspective, unique in comparison to the other students’.  
“My favorite thing about teaching Mandarin at Fairmont…”  Ding said, “is the students making progress in their learning. Especially when they don’t know any Chinese in the beginning, but at the end of one year I know they can speak some Chinese and I am so glad to see that.”