Donation sparks possibility of Chinese course

Donation sparks possibility of Chinese course

Principal Rick Fleming addresses a Chinese delegation of principals through a translator in March.

Learning Chinese may be an option in addition to French, Spanish, and Latin languages being taught at West Shore within next two years. Chinese principals who visited the school in March recently donated $1,000 to the school, creating the prospect of a Chinese language pilot program.

“I had no idea that they were going to send money,” principal Rick Fleming said. “The facilitator form FIT indicated that there would be some kind of gift. I had no way that it would be monetary, or if they were going to send us anything from a Buddhist statue maybe, to egg rolls. I didn’t know.”

Fleming was even more shocked to hear it was so much money. When he heard the gift was a going to be financial, he expected maybe $100 to help cover the lunch costs, but when he discovered it was $1000 he was excited.

“They sent it as a thank you,” Fleming said. “And I would assume they would like to continue to build a reciprocal agreement or relationship in terms of language and culture and things like that, which we’re very much open to.”

Money was also sent to Rocklege, Holy Trinity, Florida Air Academy, Satellite, and Palm Bay.

Fleming spoke to Spanish teacher and Language Department chair Luis Martin about what to do with the gift.

“We wanted it to benefit the language department,” Martin said. “It probably will help with books and extra items that you’ll need to start a class for language.”

Martin said starting a pilot program is important for students, especially with modern technology continually making the world a smaller place.

“I think we need to broaden our horizons when it comes to world languages,” Martin said. “We live in a very global society, so when we just learn Spanish or french it, believe it or not, corners you into a very small part of the planet, and we’re talking about the big picture.”

After getting a call from the district resource person for World languages asking if  they were interested in piloting the Chinese program, they decided to put the money in an account to save up for equipment and materials.

“When we did the new student registration we did a survey of how many students would be interested,” Fleming said. “Although we had a few inquiries we didn’t have a whole sale of a hundred kids wanting to do it. So it kind of fell through for this year but we’ll keep it on the books for next year.”

In addition, the district wasn’t able to secure a Visa for the person they were targeting to teach the Chinese classes. A Chinese student graduating from New Mexico State was willing to teach, however her Visa was running out so she couldn’t stay to teach.

“That was the biggest problem,” Fleming said. “Because that was who they were targeting. You know, Chinese teachers don’t grow on trees. Like in any language, the basics, like the conjugations and the context of meaning, are very important. We would need someone who is very adapted to grammatical Chinese.”

There are many different dialects as well, so to teach proper Mandarin, they need a well learned Mandarin speaker.
Still, Fleming and Martin are determined to pilot the program.

“And I don’t care if it sits there for a whole year,” Fleming said about the financial gift. “We want to focus on that Chinese effort.”