Can Mandarin Save a Failing Georgia School?
In a recent segment of the CBS Evening News, reporter, Mark Strassman shared how a failing Macon, Georgia school district is mandating Mandarin language lessons in order to stave off a staggering fifty percent failure to graduate rate. Within three years, all 25,000 students in Bibb County will be learning Mandarin. In fact, third graders at Sonny Carter Elementary School have already begun.
Students are taught Mandarin three days a week by one of 25 native Chinese teachers who came to Macon to help overhaul student performance. The new superintendent of Bibb County Schools, Romain Dallemand, refers to Mandarin as "one piece of the Macon Miracle." He is so bullish on the miracle, the district is investing $2.76 million to bring forth Mandarin and other sweeping change to the classroom.
So, what do you think? Can Mandarin help save the failing school district?
Before you answer, let's take a look at some surprising research. Some of the benefits of teaching children foreign languages include:
Higher test scores: Research shows students who have studied a foreign language score on average 140 points higher on standardized tests when it comes to Critical Reading and Writing. For Math, students score on average 150 points higher.
Helps the brain: Studies show that learning language helps flex brain muscles and helps build them up as well. Like any other muscle, the brain requires exercise in order to stay healthy. In looking at the brains of bilingual children, researchers found more grey matter. And in case you're wondering, more grey matter is a plus, as it is responsible for processing information, including memory, speech, and sensory perception.
Increases a child's view of the world: Learning languages helps build new frames of reference and provides new perspective. Increasing a child's view of the world helps with creativity and problem solving. This is particularly important for children as they are groomed to compete in a fast-paced, 21st century, multicultural environment.Continued on the next page