South Carolina immersion program off to a good start
Seven-year-old Anna Ferrebee carefully printed the letters b-i-r-d as she practiced the spelling and vocabulary words that are typical in a first-grade class. Then she moved her pencil to a second column and began copying a symbol few other first-graders in South Carolina would understand — the Chinese character for “bird.”
Anna is a student in the Beaufort County School District’s new Mandarin immersion program offered at two International Baccalaureate elementary schools — Hilton Head Island IB and Broad River. It’s the first program of its kind at a public elementary school in the state, said Jill McAden, Hilton Head IB principal.
The district began the program with two first-grade classes this school year and hopes to expand each year so students can continue studying Mandarin through high school and graduate with the ability to speak and understand the language at an advanced level.
An institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education is paying the salaries for two teachers from China this year. The school district received a separate $1.3 million federal grant to use over five years to support teaching Mandarin in local schools.
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