Teen Journalism: Students Balk at Mandarin-Only Language Classes

We were intrigued by this article from the Norwood News Bronx Youth Heard series, telling of student dissatisfaction with the policy of teaching Mandarin only at International Leadership Charter High School in the Bronx. Teen reporter Kiki Olafimihan explains:

Despite its multicultural name, International Leadership Charter High School offers its students only one language class choice for all four years of their high school attendance: Mandarin, a dialect of Chinese most commonly spoken in northern and southwestern China.

Some students dislike this arrangement and wish it could be different.

“I don’t only want to learn one language,” said Mariamah Bah, a junior at the school. “I don’t like [Mandarin]. It’s hard, and I wish we had other subjects to learn, like French.”

Even the Mandarin teacher at the school expressed some surprise at the policy:

Ms. Huang, the mandarin teacher for juniors at International Leadership, said she does think it’s unusual that the school offers only Mandarin, especially when there are very few Asian students at the school, which is made up of mostly Hispanic and African-American teens.

“This is a non-Asian heritage, so it’s interesting,” Huang said.

Still, she said she thinks learning the language is a great opportunity for students.

“Mandarin is a rich topic,” she said.

The impressive Bronx Youth Heard series is produced by the talented young journalists at the Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative, which is currently taking applications for its spring semester. Teen journos can apply here by the Feb. 15 deadline. For more examples of work produced in this workshop, click here.

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