High School Students Study Chinese at PSU

January 22nd, 2009 by Adam


PLYMOUTH, N.H. — Three area high school students traveled to Plymouth State University fall semester to study Mandarin Chinese with University students in the Department of Languages and Linguistics.

High school students must meet requirements agreed to between the high school and PSU to enroll in University classes. The Plymouth Regional High School (PRHS) students, all seniors, are Danielle Berry from Campton, Kara Mastin from Plymouth and Caitlin Swanson from Holderness.

A collaborative project between the University and PRHS, the experimental courses uses the IQChinese PINYIN and GO 100, GO 200 software programs, which were given to all students in the class using grant funds provided by the Hope Education Foundation. “Forever Use” site licensing was also provided to the PSU language laboratory with a complete set of the software.

PRHS Assistant Principal Robert Price says his school is always open to partnerships that help both institutions and enrich the experience for students. “In this case, Dr. Lopez-Mayhew came to us about a college-level course we wouldn’t have been able to offer here. The students who were able to work this in to their already very busy schedules all did very well.”

Adjunct faculty member Shi Yi Lu taught the Fall 2008 class with Professor Barbara Lopez-Mayhew, chair of the Department of Languages and Linguistics, as mentor and facilitator. “Dr. Lu’s multiple talents and interests provided a cultural supplement to the software program, which emphasizes vocabulary and tone acquisition,” said Professor Lopez-Mayhew.

“Our beginning yearlong course has been modeled after other fundamentals of language courses offered at the university, with an emphasis on oral communication and culture. However, the students in this program have the software CDs rather than a textbook,” said Lopez-Mayhew.

This model Chinese program provided the initial impetus to offer instruction of a crucial language which had not previously been included in the PSU or school district curriculum, according to Lopez-Mayhew. “This collaboration between PRHS and PSU has enhanced the university’s support and commitment with the local public area high school and community in its effort to offer high school juniors and seniors added opportunity to take courses at the university,” she said.

The Hope Education Foundation of Monterey Park, Cal. and Irvine-based IQChinese have provided 21 grants making courseware available to American students learning Mandarin Chinese in 17 public schools in 17 states. The PSU-PRHS award is the only grant made in New Hampshire.

The grant provides a complete Chinese language curriculum to either expand an existing Chinese program or provide materials to start a new one. Each grant provides courseware for up to 30 school computers, training and resources for three classroom teachers, in addition to software for the individual students, which allows them to practice outside of the classroom at home. Each grant is valued at more than $10,000.

Fundamentals of Chinese I and II have been approved as yearly offerings, and Chinese I has been approved as a general education “global awareness” course, with the likelihood of more levels in the future.

“We consider this collaboration to be an important step in the expansion and globalization of our curricula, and we hope that high schools students will continue to take advantage of this unique opportunity to study Chinese at Plymouth State University in subsequent years,” said Lopez-Mayhew.

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