By Deborah Glick
Have you ever gotten really frustrated when you can’t understand another language? When everyone around you is having a conversation and you are completely lost?
Well, you may just be in luck.
In the next few years, South is hoping to offer new one-year courses in languages specifically for social purposes. If enough students sign up, the first will be Survival Chinese for the 2014-2015 school year.
No Regents. No A.P. Just “Chinese for conversations, Chinese for travel, Chinese for study abroad, Chinese for social interactions,” said Assistant Principal Sharon Applebaum.
Ms. Applebaum first thought of this course because many students were asking for a Chinese class at a high school level – one that they did not need to have started in sixth grade. “Speaking other languages is a very important skill and we think it’s important to communicate in languages other than English in such a Western country,” said Ms. Applebaum. Furthermore, this multi-lingual communication would “certainly help locally” as the course is teaching Chinese in a “more useful, everyday way.” Such practical studies, Ms. Applebaum noted, would also help “as far as business is concerned, work is concerned, school is concerned.” Ultimately, this new skill will be “very useful.”
Although it would mainly focus on everyday vocabulary and skills, the course will also focus on visual recognition and how to put “an emphasis on certain words you want to recognize,” said Ms. Applebaum. In Chinese, visual recognition comes with the memorization of many complex characters. To avoid the difficulty of learning the writing aspect of Chinese, the course will be offering keyboarding skills. With this new asset, students will still be able to communicate but without the actual mechanics of writing.
All in all, this course is meant to prepare you for when you may be trying to read that street sign in China, when everyone around you is speaking a language foreign to you, and, as Ms. Applebaum said, “ when you just want to know which way you are going.”