According to the online translator I used, that’s how you say, “Good luck with that” in Chinese.

Almost every language has dialects. Spanish has anywhere from 10 to 50, depending on the source. But kids in our schools learn Spanish, not Castilian, Andalusian, or Latin American Spanish, which is the dialect of urban mainland Mexico,  Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and the majority of Central and South American countries.

Kindergartners at College Park elementary school are starting their lessons in Chinese, except the district don’t want you to know that kids are learning Chinese. They want you to know they’re learning Mandarin.

What’s the diff? It’s all how you spin it. It could because across the U.S. the Chinese have some PR work to do. According to a recent survey reported by the Pew Research Center, only 38% of Americans have a favorable view of the Chinese. So, if you tell people you’re teaching kids Mandarin, which is a dialect of northern China, it sounds a lot better than when you tell them they’re learning Chinese.

But they are learning Chinese.

So if we’re going to go this route, the district should re-name all of its foreign language classes to reflect the particular dialect that is taught. Or, change the Mandarin class to “Chinese.” Pick one.

All of this is secondary to the fact that the kindergartners at College Park El should be focused on learning English first because the school performed so poorly on the recent Common Core tests. Once they’ve mastered that, they should be encouraged to learn another tongue. Even if it’s “Mandarin.”

Zhù nǐ hǎo yùn.

Steve Smith

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