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Depew Kindergarten Students Learning Chinese

9:59 PM, Nov 9, 2012   |    comments
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DEPEW, NY - Step foot in a kindergarten class and you might expect to see kids learning colors, shapes, basic math and reading.

At Cayuga Heights Elementary School they are learning all of those lessons in both English and Chinese.

"It's a language that is in demand in the United States as well as other nations in the world. It's great exposure for these children at an early age," said acting principal Michelle Kudla.

Superintendent Jeff Rabey said the U.S. is behind the eight ball when it comes to foreign language.

"There are kindergarten students and first graders in China that speak both English and Chinese, and there are currently more English-speaking Chinese students than there are students in the United States," said Rabey.

There is research suggesting children who acquire a foreign language at an early age achieve greater academic progress in their own native language.

Right now the students are learning basic words and phrases in Mandarin Chinese.  In a few months their teacher will reinforce lessons first taught in English, in Chinese.

Lan Wei will be teaching here in Western New York for two years, at no cost to taxpayers.

The program is a collaboration between the Confucius Institute at the University at Buffalo and China's education department.

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