In the Classroom: Learning Mandarin in high school

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - English classes are mandatory for a majority of Chinese students, but less than 0.5 percent of English students learn Mandarin Chinese. Marian High School said they wanted to offer the language to set their students up for educational and real-world success.

It has been a learning experience for everyone involved.

“The first like two weeks I think a lot of us in the class were like oh my gosh,” said Marian Junior Mia Mixan.

Linging Guo arrived at Marian High School less than two months ago.

“It is a real learning process to be a high school teacher. This is my very first time teaching high school,” Mandarin Teacher Linging Guo said.

The first-time high school teacher is instructing Marian’s first Mandarin course.

Mandarin Chinese is the fastest-growing language in the world. Marian High School Principal Susie Sullivan says it is a no brainer to add it to her school's curriculum.

"We had several parents who were interested in it and we also knew our Latin teacher was going to retire at some point in time,” Marian High School Principal Susie Sullivan said.

Sullivan said knowing Mandarin can translate into more career and business opportunities. She is happy to see interest from the girls.

“They were very excited, but I think they were surprised by how difficult it is,” Sullivan said.

Two students dropped the class after a few weeks because of the difficulty. But, ten girls decided to stick it out, including senior Samantha Fabian who spent four weeks at Ole Miss over the summer in a Chinese immersion program.

“The stuff that we are learning now is just refresher for me, but once we get further down the road I think we it will be a little more challenging, but a little more fun,” said Fabian.

The girls all agree, no matter their skill level, their teacher is going at their pace and they say a little challenge never hurt anyone.

"I think the more languages you know, the more opportunities you get. I don't know anyone who knows Mandarin so I think there are a lot of opportunities available if you take it,” said Mixan.

Principal Susie Sullivan says next year they will offer Mandarin II to help fulfill the girls’ college language requirements.

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