$12 Million in U.S. Grants to Foreign Language Schools


nyc-schoolThe U.S. Department of Education will issue more than $12.4 million to schools looking to establish or expand programs in foreign languages critical to national security, officials recently announced. The grants promote the instruction of Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Arabic, as well as languages in the Indic, Iranian and Turkic families.Recipients include education departments, local school districts and individual schools in 24 states and the District of Columbia.

Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School is the only D.C. school to receive a grant – about $290,000 – to bolster its Chinese language immersion program.

Here, young students ages 4 to7 alternate between English and Chinese in all core subjects, every day.

“We were thrilled,” said executive director Mary Shaffner. The grant money will help the school create its own Chinese-language resources and help fund better assessment tools to measure student learning and teacher performance, she said.

Shaffner said the school’s founders wanted to center its curriculum on Chinese, since China has become such a world player and is currently the third-largest economy behind Japan and the United States.

“One in five people speak Chinese,” she said, adding that learning the language will help kids compete against other Chinese speakers in the global job force.

It’s a concept that Chinese job-seeking students are quickly embracing. Currently, more than 100 Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) centers in 37 cities throughout China offer several tests a year. And the English-language business in China is one of the most profitable.

Voris Evans-Thomas said Chinese will prove to be a necessity for her daughter, a second-grader at Yu Ying.

“Let’s just say that security is still the way that it is, they’re going to need more people to be able to communicate with the foreigners, as well as abroad, so I just feel that it’s very important that she learns a second language to keep up with society,” she said.

Shaffner said the long-term investment starts in the classroom. These young, bilingual students will benefit years down the road.

“I think their parents chose this to help them get jobs potentially in the State Department or in other national security fields, and also in business. But this will give them hopefully an advantage when they’re looking for a job, when they’re going to college,” Shaffner said.

{Politics Daily/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}