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VIDEO: Chinese immersion programs could be among federal cuts for Beaufort County schools

January 26, 2012

 

By RACHEL HEATON
rheaton@beaufortgazette.com
843-706-8177
Published Monday, January 23, 2012
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When a visitor enters one classroom at Hilton Head Island Elementary School, 26 first-graders turn toward the door and shout their welcome.”Ni Hao!”

That’s “hello” in Mandarin.

The students solve math problems in the language and follow basic classroom commands. They’ve learned about Chinese culture and dutifully work to write the language’s intricate characters.

The class learns mostly in Mandarin as part of an immersion program the Beaufort County School District began in 2010. More than 80 first- and second-graders at Hilton Head Elementary and Broad River Elementary schools participate.

But the grant that funds them — the Foreign Language Assistance Program, which provided $1.3 million over five years — could be cut from the federal budget this year. Those grants would have run through 2015, but funding for the program has been eliminated by the House of Representatives. The legislation has not passed the Senate.That means the district would have to find the money for its programs elsewhere, reduce their scope or end them altogether.

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