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Lesson Plan

Tuesday, Jan. 03, 2006 12:17 AM

Schools are showing an increased interest in teaching Mandarin Chinese to their students, starting as early as kindergarten, and are getting support at the federal level.

It is generally accepted that children are better able to recognize and discern language-specific tones when they are younger (a baby's babbling consists of repeating phonemes that it hears), and I've long held that we should encourage our children to learn multiple languages. (The daughter of a colleague speaks fluent English, French, and Mandarin.)

Chinese, as a multi-tonal language (there are five distinct tones in Mandarin), is an excellent choice - and China's growth as an economic and political power makes fluency even more valuable.

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