Recruitment & Retention

Chinese Ministry Signs Pact With College Board To Build Up Teachers

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — April 25, 2006 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In a week marked by a high-profile meeting between President Bush and China’s President Hu Jintao, the College Board signed an agreement with the government of China intended to boost the numbers of Chinese-language teachers in American public schools through teaching exchanges, professional-development programs, and new instructional materials.

The agreement, announced April 19, is expected to help build Chinese-language programs in some 2,000 public schools over the next five years. Currently, only a few hundred schools in the K-12 sector offer instruction in the language. (“Students Taking Spanish, French; Leaders Pushing Chinese, Arabic,” March 29, 2006)

“This is about helping more students learn about the language and culture of China,” College Board President Gaston Caperton said in an interview. “It’s a breakthrough. … This will boost [American schools’ capacity for] Chinese-language instruction tremendously.”

The New York City-based College Board operates the Advanced Placement program.

Under the agreement, 150 guest teachers from China will teach in U.S. schools over the next several years. Some 300 American teachers will receive financial support and other resources to pursue certification for teaching Chinese, and several hundred others will have the chance to travel to China to learn more about the language and culture.

‘A Great Leap’

Advocates of international studies and improved foreign-language instruction called the agreement historic.

“This is a very bold plan, and it’s going to take a lot to implement it,” said Michael Levine, who directs the international education program for the New York City-based Asia Society. “But if implemented well, this plan, with a lot of help from others, could make possible a great leap forward in America’s understanding that this is a critical language and culture.”

The Asia Society promotes international studies—and teaching about Asian cultures and languages, specifically—in public schools as essential for building the nation’s global competitiveness.

The College Board previously collaborated with the Chinese Ministry of Education to design the Advanced Placement course and test in Chinese language and culture, which will be offered for the first time next school year.

A College Board survey found that at least 2,400 high schools were interested in offering the AP course, but that most lacked the resources and staff to do so.

China’s education minister, Zhou Ji, called the agreement a “remarkable effort in promoting the Sino-American educational cooperation and exchanges, and strengthening the mutual understanding and friendship between our two nations,” according to a statement from last week’s event. China has similar projects in other countries.

Lengthy Process

While the initiative is a positive step toward building a pool of well-qualified teachers and expanding Chinese-language offerings, it will not make a dent in the need or demand for such programs nationally, said Cynthia Y. Ning, the executive director of the Chinese Language Teachers Association, housed at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“This is a big step up from what is currently the case, but far below what is happening overseas” to provide Chinese-language offerings, Ms. Ning said. “Even to meet this demand, we’re highly stressed. People shouldn’t have overblown expectations … that this will begin to give us everything we need” to build strong Chinese programs.

The university’s Center for Chinese Studies has received a grant from the Education Ministry to train teachers from China who are also fluent in English to adapt their skills to American classrooms. That program, Ms. Ning said, could possibly produce 20 qualified teachers a year.

“The whole thing about language is that [teaching a foreign] language is really, really hard to do well,” she said. “There are no quick fixes.”


Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!

Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention Schools Are in Desperate Need of Tutors. But Qualified Ones Are Hard to Find
Schools are evaluating a variety of tutoring approaches to address "unfinished learning," but the supply of qualified tutors is low.
5 min read
illustration of tutor and student
Recruitment & Retention From Our Research Center How Bad Are School Staffing Shortages? What We Learned by Asking Administrators
More than two-thirds of administrators say they're telling existing staff to take on additional responsibilities.
2 min read
In this April 17, 2020, file photo dormant school buses are secured at a facility in Tempe, Ariz. Planning is underway to prepare for reopening Arizona's public schools in the next school year and the state's top education official says the resulting decisions that will be made and the guidance provided to local districts won't come too soon. Some districts start their school years as early as mid-July, with most others following in August, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman told KJZZ.
More than two-thirds of school district leaders and principals say they're having trouble hiring enough bus drivers this school year, according to a new EdWeek Research Center survey on staffing shortages.
Matt York/AP
Recruitment & Retention Letter to the Editor The Pandemic Isn’t the Only Reason For School Staffing Shortages
States must dig deeper than superficial-level explanations if they're serious about staffing shortages, writes an educator.
1 min read
Recruitment & Retention 'No Respect and No Support': K-12 Workers Explain Why Schools Struggle With Staffing
Bus drivers, custodians, and other school employees share stories of low pay, meager benefits, minimal respect, and dangerous conditions.
5 min read
A "Bus Drivers Wanted" sign is shown Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Sandy, Utah. A shortage of bus drivers is complicating the start of a new school year already facing a surge in COVID-19 cases and conflicts over whether masks should be required in school buildings.
A "Bus Drivers Wanted" sign is shown Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Sandy, Utah. A shortage of bus drivers is complicating the start of a new school year already facing a surge in COVID-19 cases and conflicts over whether masks should be required in school buildings.
Rick Bowmer/AP