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College Board Launches Course in Chinese Language, Culture

College Board Launches Course in Chinese Language, CultureRepresentatives of the People’s Republic of China and College Board President Gaston Caperton last month announced the creation of an advanced placement program course and examination in Chinese language and culture, citing China’s growing economic significance and the College Board’s commitment to promoting cultural understanding in America’s schools as motivating forces behind the decision.
Yang Jiechi, Ambassador of China to the United States, and Yan Meihua, director general of China’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, participated in the announcement on Capitol Hill.
“People-to-people contact between China and the United States is important for increasing mutual understanding, fostering friendship and expanding bilateral relations,” Yang said. “The bridge of understanding and friendship cannot be built without language.”
Chinese is the national language of the 1.3 billion inhabitants of China and is the predominant language of 31 million Chinese people living overseas. Today, the majority of students in China learn English. Yet few students in the United States are being offered the international education needed to participate in this part of the global arena. For example, one million students in U.S. schools study French, a language spoken by 70 million people worldwide. Fewer than 50,000 students study Chinese, a language spoken by almost 1.5 billion people worldwide.
“Our education system needs to respond to an increasingly interconnected global economy and to the growing cultural diversity in the United States,” Caperton said. According to the 2000 U.S. Census Report, Chinese Americans are the largest Asian group in the United States, with more than 2.7 million residents.
The College Board maintains that the study of a world language, such as Chinese, should no longer be seen as a rarified pursuit, but as a necessary component of secondary education. “We want to ensure that the next generation of Americans speaks more than one language and is competitive in a global marketplace,” Caperton said.
The development of AP Chinese language and culture is the second step in a commitment by the College Board to further multiculturalism and multilingualism in secondary school education. In September, the College Board, along with the Italian government, announced the creation of an AP course and examination in Italian language and culture.
The College Board’s AP program allows students to pursue college-level studies while they are still in high school. Based on their performance on AP exams, students can earn college credit, advanced placement, or both. 

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