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Staffing Your Chinese Immersion Program

November 30, 2012

By Jeff Bissell and Kevin Chang
Whether it be an immersion or other setting, it is imperative to select teachers with the basic qualifications to be effective in the classroom. For more commonly taught languages in the United States (for example, French and Spanish), the teacher pool is a combination of native or heritage speakers of the language and English speakers who major in the language in university studies and become certified to teach it. Less commonly taught languages, such as Chinese and Japanese, have fewer English-dominant teachers, though that situation is changing. Because of the linguistic demands of teaching in an immersion setting, it is extremely important that non-native speaker teachers have a high degree of proficiency and naturalness in Chinese.

An effective Chinese language educator needs to possess at least the following six qualifications:

  1. Has a solid background in Chinese and speaks the standard variety (putonghua). For all teachers of Chinese, their pronunciation in Mandarin must be putonghua. Different states set different linguistic competency requirements: some require the demonstration of a speaking proficiency in Chinese of Advanced-Low or above on the ACTFL scale of speaking proficiency; some states also require a rating on the ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test, while others require proof of credits or a major in Chinese.
  2. Has the required teaching certification. Certification requirements differ by state. In most cases, elementary school teachers need to be licensed to teach in the elementary grades, and may not need to hold foreign language certification. For middle school teachers, some states may require both language and content area certification.

Please read more here.

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