Janesvile schools' Chinese program seen as model

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Friday, September 30, 2011
— The Chinese program in Janesville's public schools is only 2 years old, but it has earned the admiration of an outside agency that is backing up its praise with a $10,000 grant.

Janesville will become part of a nationwide network of 100 "exemplary" Chinese-language programs that is being developed by the nonprofit, nongovernmental Asia Society.

Janesville will become part of the Asia Society's Confucius Classrooms Network.

The recognition also comes with access to resources and a promise to match Janesville with a partner school in China.

The partner schools could work on joint projects, set up pen pals and, eventually, send students over the Pacific Ocean on exchange programs, said Julie DeCook, who oversees the district's foreign-language programs.

The award recognizes Janesville's strong local support, commitment to international collaboration, "global vision for the future" and potential as a model for other schools setting up Chinese programs, according to a news release.

DeCook said Janesville's use of computer technologies, and commitment to integrating Chinese culture topics in non-Chinese classes also played a role, as did resource-sharing with the Hedberg Public Library and UW-Whitewater and parent/school support for activities such as a Chinese talent show.

The network provides an online link in which teachers can share resources and best practices.

Chinese in Janesville began with pilot programs in 2007. In 2009, Chinese began in grades 3 to 5 at Harrison and Roosevelt schools. It has since expanded to Marshall and Edison middle schools, where combined classes of sixth- and seventh-graders are conducted.

Two teachers, one of them half-time, teach Chinese to about 300 students, 45 of those at the middle schools and seven through a Janesville Virtual Academy online class, DeCook said.

The program was set up to expand to a higher grade each year, but whether that happens in the years ahead depends on the school board's budget decisions, DeCook said.

DeCook said some of the grant is required to be used for travel expenses for a teacher to go to two national conferences, with the Asia Society picking up lodging and conference fees.

The money also will be used for instructional materials such as books, web cameras, calligraphy pens and ink and to give the Chinese teachers time to plan and collaborate with other teachers.

Last updated: 6:14 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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