The word for “he”, “she” and “it” in Chinese Mandarin is “ta”. The characters or kanji are different characters, but the pronunciation is the same. Chinese use more words to give context to the listener to help them understand. I learned this while sitting in the Mandarin class today after school. Ms. Irene Pan, a former OIS parent, and native of Taiwan teaches Chinese Mandarin on Mondays and Tuesdays after school. The classes are available to all OIS students.
There is a growing interest from our students and parents in learning Chinese. Some have Chinese heritage, but mostly I think, parents feel that it is becoming more important to speak the language due to the growing world influence of China. Being in East Asia, I really see the growth of China in the global economy and there are more Chinese working in or visiting Japan. Expatriate families are looking to help their children improve their career prospects by giving them an important world language. I don’t see it replacing English anytime soon, but before this century is out, Chinese may be just as common as English.
OIS students also have access to the Senri International School Mandarin teacher, Mrs. Kari Nakajima. She is also Taiwanese and teaches classes during the school day and after school. OIS high school with unscheduled periods during the day can take classes with SIS students if it fits their schedule. One OIS student is taking a class with her after school for high school credit.
As an IB World School, we support mother tongue and second and third language development. We support languages in a tiered system. For example, students with one or both Chinese parents who want to maintain their mother tongue would get first priority for support. Tier 2 are students who either lived in China and want to maintain the language or have an ethnic background. Tier 3 students have an interest in Chinese. Depending on the tier, classes may be free of charge, during the day and for a graduation credit, or after school with families paying a fee to the instructor.
We are trying to build our mother tongue program to support more languages in our community. Please see the appropriate principal if you are interested in enrolling your child in a Mandarin Chinese class.