SAN FRANCISCO, January 19, 2016 — San Francisco State University was recently awarded a $264,501 grant from the Language Flagship Program, a division of the National Security Education Program, to help set up a number of pathways for learners of Mandarin Chinese. Conceptualized by the Chinese Flagship Program at SF State, a federally funded honors track for accelerated Chinese, the grant is administered in partnership with City College of San Francisco and the Mandarin Institute, a national Chinese language and culture education advocate.
The project consists of two pathways. One, called Concurrent Chinese Language Pathway, allows any incoming public high school student with Mandarin language skills — obtained either through previous classes or heritage background — to continue their study of Chinese in high school while also earning college credit. Students will be dual-enrolled in advanced Mandarin courses at City College at no cost. These credits can be applied both toward the student’s high school graduation requirements and transferred into a degree at SF State. The other is a pathway for community college students, which provides accelerated introductory classes for novice learners. Both pathways are in part aimed at facilitating admission to SF State’s Chinese Flagship Program.
Frederik Green, Ph.D., associate director of the Chinese Flagship Program at SF State and principal investigator of the project, and Mia Segura, the Flagship Program’s coordinator, wrote the grant. A pilot class began in the fall 2015 semester; regular classes will begin in the spring 2016 semester. Grant funding runs through fall 2016, when the program will be eligible to apply for additional support.
“We envision that our youth will be able to take advantage of opportunities to either work in China or to work directly with people from China in a near native capacity,” says Yalan King, executive director of the Mandarin Institute.
According to USA Today, enrollments in college Chinese language programs have increased 51 percent since 2002, and have increased 100 percent in elementary, junior high and high schools in the last two years.
King was instrumental in developing the initial idea for the project. She also initiated the first two elementary Mandarin immersion programs in San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). When her daughter, a Mandarin immersion student, entered middle school, King wondered what would happen to the years of Mandarin that she and her classmates had studied.
“Now with the collaboration between the Mandarin Institute, SFUSD, City College, and SF State, we have full articulation from Kindergarten through 16,” King said.
King collaborated with Segura to implement the project. Hsin-Yun Liu, Ph.D., professor of Chinese language at City College of San Francisco, serves as the principal investigator at City College while Yang Xiao-Desai, assistant professor of Chinese at SF State, serves as curriculum adviser.
“Chinese has been designated, among other languages, as critical to U.S. international competitiveness,” Segura said, adding that recruiters regularly visit the SF State Chinese program asking for students with a background in the language. She hopes that the Concurrent Chinese Language Pathway will help produce more students with the ability to accept these positions. “For us, what’s really important is producing these bilingual professionals,” Segura said.