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The Times recently reported on the rise of Chinese- language instruction in American schools, a push supported by aid from the Chinese government. While language fads come and go, is the boom in Chinese language education going to last? Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world with 14.4% of world population speaking it, way ahead of Spanish with 6.15%.

Photo: C.K. Lau (To view the photo album, visit www.facebook.com/Orlando.Chinese.CFL)

The U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Institute rates Mandarin a “Category III” language, meaning it is one of the most difficult languages to learn for a native English speaker. The institute specifies that Mandarin competence requires 88 weeks of study, or 2,200 class hours, and says that half that time should be spent in a country where it is spoken. Learning Chinese at a young age and putting yourself in an environment where you can engage active dialogue easily would definitely help.

Chinese School of CAACF, established in 1980, is one of the largest Chinese schools in Florida. Besides two-hour language classes for different levels every Saturday, the school offers an hour extracurricular activities such as Chinese calligraphy, cultural dance, yoyo, Chinese martial arts, table tennis and newly added badminton. Fall Semester starts on August 23 at Lake Highland Prep School at Charles Clayton Campus, 741 N. Mills Ave. Orlando, Fl 32803. Visit www.OrlandoChineseSchool.org for more details.

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