The Chinese program at Charlottesville high school in North Carolina has over eighty students enrolled this year. Even though some of the classes have the students sing Rebecca Black’s famous internet song “Friday,” the students are engaged in the material and eager to learn the complex language. Many of the students shuffle along to the song and embarrassedly go through the Chinese translation, but some are having fun singing the simplistic lyrics as they are accompanied by a student on the guitar.
Chinese Language Club Grows into Three Classes and is Still Expanding
The Chinese language program at Charlottesville high school didn’t start out as an actual class. It started as an after school program that quickly grew too popular to keep going as just a club. The school now offers three classes in the Chinese language, each growing more advanced until hardly any English at all is spoken in the classroom at the third level. The school is also hoping to start an AP class for the most advanced students and wants to eventually hire a second teacher. Some students want to continue learning the language when they graduate, hoping to use their skills in business or working for professional translation companies.
The students also say that with China growing as quickly as it is and with the population of Chinese immigrants expanding in the United States, the Chinese language could possibly become one of the most commonly spoken languages in America. In order to be able to compete for jobs, the students say that they need to be prepared, and that means being able to speak the language. Being able to provide business translation services will greatly increase their chances of landing quality jobs out of college.
Is Good Teaching the Driving Force Behind the Language Program?
Many of the students at Charlottesville high school are enthusiastic about learning Chinese because they think it will help them with future careers, but many are excited because they have an engaging and interesting teacher. Sara Epperly is the Chinese instructor at the high school, and she strives to make her classes interesting and enjoyable because the class is an elective. Epperly is originally from Roanoke, Virginia and is only one of ninety-two teachers to have their Chinese endorsement. She is a professional translator who also has experience with Spanish as well as Chinese. She has also spent several years teaching abroad in China before getting her master’s degree in 2005.