WYNNE, AR (KAIT) – Three teachers with the Wynne School District Monday confirmed they are traveling to China Thursday in an effort to help Arkansas schools recruit Chinese language teachers.
According to Sandra Smith, Assistant Principal at Wynne, Sharon Sisk, Cindy Kinard and herself will leave for Beijing from Chicago International Airport. The three teachers will join others from Batesville, Beebe, Lincoln and the Pulaski County Special School District on the trip to Beijing and Zhengzhou.
"I love the idea of networking and spreading my wings and I just think this is an awesome opportunity. When I came back to school this year, I had no idea that I would be going to china," said Smith.
According to Smith, the school will pay approximately half of the total cost of the trip, which is an estimated $3,000 per person. The remainder of travel expenses will be funded by the Chinese government's Confucius Institute, a program at the University of Central Arkansas.
"China is one of the top competitors and it makes sense to network with the top competitor," said Smith. "In china, we were told that they do not allow their students to graduate without knowing English and they start in kindergarten."
Smith said Wynne currently has a Chinese teacher employed at the school. They employed the first Chinese teacher three years ago.
"When a door of opportunity opens, you can walk through it. That's what education is all about and we're just excited about this door," said Smith.
According to a pamphlet by the University of Central Arkansas Confucius Institute, more than 1.3 billion people speak Chinese. More than 200 million Chinese children study English as early as the 2nd grade. In the United States, approximately 50,000 U.S. children study Chinese.
Lina Gan of Shanghai said she came to America two years ago to teach Chinese at a high school in West Virginia. Upon graduation in China, she became interesting in bringing the language to American students.
"Wal-Mart has a lot of, and other companies, they have so much business relations with china so knowing Chinese may provide some opportunities," said Gan.
"We have similar grammar structure but our writing system is quite different," said Gan when comparing English to Chinese. "We have quite a few, like 30,000, 40,000, but our pronunciation system is very simple. So speaking Chinese is quite easy."
Gan said it's important to students to learn as many languages as possible because it will increase their chances of landing jobs in foreign countries.
"They see Chinese culture and everything is amazing. Because it's the other side of the world. Everyone is curious about that," said Gan.