Venice’s Mandarin program may be cut. This is disappointing to hear, because it would negatively affect the whole school.
Mandarin is being cut is because only a handful of students are taking Mandarin. Relative to other language classes, such as French, Mandarin has fewer students. Mr. Tim Liang currently teaches four levels of Mandarin.
Cutting the Mandarin program would be a blow to the World Language and Global Studies Magnet. Only four languages would be available: Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese. In previous years, Russian and Latin have also been taught. German was completely cut just last year.
Incoming students and their parents’ views of the magnet could be negatively affected by the lack of languages. After all, it is a World Languages magnet. Can it still be confidently called a World Language magnet if only four language classes are offered?
In addition, Mandarin is an important language. It claims the top spot for the most widely spoken language in the world. Also, China is rising to become highly significant in the world economy (it is currently the second largest economy in the world) and it is a major trading partner with the U.S. Therefore, doors of opportunity can open for Mandarin speakers. Mandarin is as equally important as other languages and Venice students should seriously consider taking it to increase the class size. In American schools and colleges, Mandarin is the seventh most popular foreign language.
Schools such as Broadway Elementary and nearby Mark Twain Middle School, which feed into Venice, offer a Mandarin immersion program. If these schools can have Mandarin programs, why can’t we save ours, especially since more students will be coming to Venice with some Mandarin experience?
As for the students currently taking Mandarin with Mr. Liang, they lose their chance to obtain the Biliteracy Award. Their options for getting the awards are reduced to passing an AP language test or SAT foreign language exam in Mandarin. The requirement is four years of the same language in order for students to obtain the Biliteracy Award. Mandarin students, especially current freshmen, are at a disadvantage.
I have friends currently taking Mandarin at Venice. They are very passionate about the language and enjoy practicing it outside of the class. Sometimes I speak to them in Mandarin, since I’m fluent. It is obvious that they thoroughly enjoy the class as well.
If the Mandarin students are forced to choose another language class for the remainder of their high school years, it would mean that the other remaining language classes would see an unnecessary increase in class size. Some classes are full enough already. A class with 35-40 students can’t fit another seven or so students.
I would be currently taking Mandarin at Venice if not for the fact that I’ve taken Mandarin since kindergarten. Because it is emphasized by WLGS that a student should take a language in which they had little to no experience prior to enrollment, Mandarin wasn’t an option for me. Therefore, I take Spanish and still take Mandarin outside of school.
To conclude, it would be a grave mistake to cut Mandarin from Venice. The least that could be done is to allow only current students to continue taking the class until they finish all four years, and then cut the class. However, it would be best, in the end, to keep the class for incoming students and promote Mandarin in order to increase class size.