There has been significant growth in Chinese language programs over the past five years. Indeed, demand seems likely to continue to increase. The most significant barrier to meeting student demand to learn Chinese is the lack of trained and certified teachers.
For programs to be vital and sustainable, teachers must be able to engage and to motivate students over the long term, incorporate best practices in the teaching and learning of world languages, and to connect the Chinese language program to other academic subject areas and aspects of school life and community.
In February of 2010, Asia Society convened an experts meeting on Chinese language teacher preparation and certification in the U.S., to address the urgent need for a long-term supply of effective Chinese language teachers. The meeting brought together 50 leaders from the United States and China to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the field of Chinese language teaching and learning. The outcome was a set of targeted recommendations for the field going forward.
See the new Asia Society report, Meeting the Challenge: Preparing Chinese Language Teachers for American Schools, to learn about the recommendations. The report analyzes the current status of, and demand for, Chinese language programs. it proposes ways to expand and enhance the supply of Chinese language teachers, increase their effectiveness, and produce teachers for new innovations in elementary and online language programs.
To accomplish these tasks will require vision and partnerships between all the critical stakeholders—schools, colleges and universities, and state and federal government. Much is already happening in terms of both quantity and quality. Lessons have been learned, new programs have been created, and new pools of potential teachers are being developed. But much more needs to be done in order to meet the challenge of Jon Huntsman Jr., U.S. Ambassador to China: Young people today "need to be able to build bridges across the Pacific Ocean that speak to world peace, that speak to prosperity, that speak to economic development…. And I know of no other way of doing that … building those bridges … and making the cultures on both sides of the Pacific comprehensible, other than through language study."