Bridgeport Public Schools

Students at Winthrop School Learn Mandarin Chinese

From back to front: Dominique Delva, Malik Marseille, Michael Rua, Nicolin Goodin and Shemar Anderson

From back to front: Dominique Delva, Malik Marseille, Michael Rua, Nicolin Goodin and Shemar Anderson

This academic year several 8th grade scholars at John Winthrop Elementary School had the opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese. The students are engaged in mychinese360, an online Mandarin Chinese course being used in the TAG (Talented and Gifted Program) at Winthrop.

 Statistics show that Chinese increasingly stands shoulder-to-shoulder with English as a global language. In fact, Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world with 1.1 billion speakers just in mainland China. The mychinese360 program is an opportunity to bring back some of the lost world languages to Bridgeport middle school students. Mandarin Chinese is currently taught at the high school level at Central High School and the Vocational Regional Aquaculture School.

 The mychinese360 program blends the latest technologies to create an educational experience that is not only fun but engaging and extremely effective.  Scholars develop language skills that will eventually help them succeed in our ever-changing global economy. The technologies include: a computer, webcam, and headsets for classroom use. Through the computer the students have class with a live teacher in China who communicates with them in English and Chinese. Students devote 2 1/2 hours per week to live instruction in the classroom, as well as 3 hours on their home computers for homework. They are also learning to write Chinese characters.

 The students are supported by their TAG teacher, Gary Peluchette at Winthrop. "Students were so engaged at the outset that they asked for additional headsets to practice their emerging language skills at home," Peluchette said.

 As this is a pilot, the district is still gathering data about the program’s success rate. Meanwhile, students and staff are excited about being engaged in something new and challenging.

The initiation of this program came from BPS Superintendent, Dr. John Ramos, Sr. who was interested in expanding world language learning in the middle grades. The actual implementation of the program has been collaboration between the Department of Learning and Teaching, specifically the World Languages Department and John Winthrop School led by principal, Randolph Dixon.