New Jersey: Demand for Chinese teachers grows as more schools teach it

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Oct 27 13:56:40 UTC 2006

via edling at

Demand for Chinese teachers grows as more schools teach it

Associated Press Writer

October 26, 2006, 5:15 PM EDT

TRENTON, N.J. -- Wanted: A few good Chinese instructors, teaching
certificate required. With a growing number of school districts in New
Jersey and across the country offering Chinese language classes, Rutgers
University is trying to fill the void. A university program that usually
provides additional training in teaching methods for language teachers
already in the classroom has started to do something entirely new _ to
help provide the courses needed for those fluent in Mandarin Chinese to
gain a certificate to teach it. The Accelerated Chinese Teacher
Certification program, part of the summer World Languages Institute, helps
participants achieve state kindergarten through grade 12 certification in
as little as two summers. Nineteen would-be teachers completed the first
six-week program last summer.

Those going through the program already know the language, have a strong
background in the culture and may even be natives of China, said Marion
Yudow, the language institute's administrative director. "What they don't
know is the pedagogy, the teaching practices, how the American classroom
is organized, the methodology. That's what we offer," Yudow said. Yudow
said the plan is to eventually offer the program year-round. Among those
in the program last summer was Cecilia Oak, 50, a Dunellen resident who
immigrated to the U.S. from China 26 years ago. Formerly a computer
scientist, she became inspired to teach her native language after reading
a news article early this year in which President Bush called for more
Chinese teachers.

But it wasn't until she contacted the World Languages Institute at Rutgers
that she was able to cut through the bureaucracy and figure out what she
needed to do to get a teaching certificate. "The summer course helped give
me confidence, and let me know theoretically how to teach," said Oak, who
is now hurrying through the present school year to finish courses needed
for her certificate. Only about two dozen of New Jersey's 616 public
school districts presently offer Chinese, whether it's in elementary,
middle or high school. But the number has increased in recent years,
according to Janis Jensen, the state Education Department's coordinator of
world languages and international education. Princeton High School added a
Chinese course this year. And the Fair Lawn, Vernon Township and
Demarest-based Northern Valley Regional districts have all won federal
grants to help pay for Chinese classes, starting next year, Jensen said.

It's part of a trend across the country that has accelerated since
January, when President Bush announced the National Security Language
Initiative to encourage teaching of languages in high demand, such as
Arabic and Chinese, said Steve Ackley, spokesman at the Alexandria,
Va.-based American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Chinese
has been especially popular, Ackley said. "If you look at their population
and the size of their economy, the demand for their products and the
process of being able to sell to them, it would be good to be able to
communicate with them in their own language," he said. In New Jersey,
interest has been mainly geared toward Chinese, said Jensen. Only a
handful of districts have Arabic classes.

"I think the interest in China is growing because of economic reasons
primarily. They're growing important politically, economically," Jensen
said. With the growing interest, the Princeton district felt lucky to find
a Chinese teacher for its high school course, said Priscilla Russel, the
district's supervisor of language programs. The district had lined up a
qualified candidate, only to have her take a job at an area private
school. But then two candidates certified to teach Chinese showed up at
the district's job fair last February. One of them, Shwu-Fen Lin, was
hired part-time. The district originally planned to have only one class at
the high school, but demand was so high there are now 45 students in two
classes. They share the classroom with a French teacher, and there's a
Chinese/French theme to decorations as the class is taught entirely in

"It's quickly become the favorite class of a lot of kids. It's as hard as
can be, and they work hard for the 45 minutes of their period, speaking
and reading and writing characters in the air. There's no slacking in
there," Russel said.


Rutgers World Languages Institute:,0,5589122.story?coll=ny-region-apnewjersey


N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list