PHARR - The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo School District recently hired three teachers from China to expand its Dual Language Enrichment Program by teaching Mandarin Chinese at various district campuses. Representatives from College Board recently visited the schools where it is being implemented to learn firsthand how the program is doing.
The Chinese Guest Teacher Program, which has grown to be the largest Chinese visiting teacher program in the U.S. was made possible through a collaboration with the College Board and Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban). Since 2007, the College Board has brought more than 1,300 Chinese language and culture teachers to classrooms across the nation.
Dai Xiaomei, Wang Wei and Jia Li, who currently teach at Palacios Elementary, Garcia Elementary, Liberty Middle School, Escalante Middle School, Kennedy Middle School and PSJA Southwest Early College High School, have been teaching PSJA students how to speak their language, learn about their country and culture.
According to Dai Xiaomei, teacher at PSJA Southwest ECHS, learning a third language has been easy for the students.
"I feel blessed and fortunate to have these students," Xiaomei said. "They already know English and Spanish, so it's quicker to learn Chinese as a third language."
For Lisa Healy, Associate Director of Chinese Language and Culture Initiatives for College Board, the visit reassured her that the teachers are acclimating well and the students are learning.
"It is very exciting to see a new program growing," she said. "The teachers are doing a good job, and they are very happy teaching, living in your community. The teachers tell me the students are all good learners, that is because they already speak two other languages and it's very easy for them to pick up Chinese."
Based on its successful implementation this school year, PSJA ISD hopes to expand the program to more schools.