Summer program brings China closer to US children

Updated: 2014-07-17 11:53

By Li Ang in New York (China Daily USA)

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China Institute is seizing the summer to introduce Chinese culture to young children in New York.

The Manhattan-based institute is putting on a program for children ages 3 to 9 of Chinese-language instruction and culture.

The 40-day program, which started June 30 and runs to Aug 8, is divided into a morning section of language learning and culture in the afternoon.

The full-day tuition is $1,520 for members of the China Institute and $1,600 for non-members; the half-day-class session is $910 and $960, respectively for members and non-members. Funding for the program mostly comes from the tuition, said Shenzhan Liao, director of education at China Institute, a nonprofit educational and cultural institution founded in 1926.

Language instruction is led by eight experienced Chinese-language teachers, and children who sign up for the full-day program participate in cultural activities that include Chinese folk dance, arts and crafts and Chinese cooking

The summer program started in 2008 with the aim of enhancing the understanding of Chinese culture for young children, according to Liao. "This year, around 50 children joined the program 'Fly, Little Dragon', half are from Chinese heritage background and the other half are not, making classes really diverse."

Liao said that since 2009 the institute has experienced a big increase in the number of applications and has enrolled more children. Unlike previous years, she said there was enough space this summer to accept all applicants. The maximum number of children in a class is 10.

Sophia, who is in the summer program for a second time, showed a Chinese storybook she made with Chinese characters. "Last year I came here and I loved it, I wanted to stay, so I told my mom that I want to come again this summer," she said.

Maria said she just "loved the summer program on the first day of classes." She said she had learned Chinese so "this is not really hard for me".

Talking about her interest in China and Chinese, Maria said: "When I was 3, when I lived in Spain, my best friend was Chinese, so I wanted to learn Chinese. And we speak Chinese to each other right now."

The Chinese-language class is about learning basic sentence patterns, along with games and interactive activities. Selina Ye, the instructor, said: "I'm teaching the advanced class for this summer, our class is determined by students' age and their level in Chinese. I'm really happy that our students work really hard trying to write Chinese characters."

Liao said the increased interest in learning to speak Chinese and about the country's culture at the institute has been sparked by the American public's growing attention on China and "parents also feel learning Chinese will have good influence on the child's future.

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(China Daily USA 07/17/2014 page2)