Georgia's Pre-K program can boast another first. It's the first in the nation to offer Mandarin
Chinese classes to four year olds.
They're so little they are still learning English, and learning to speak Chinese
at the same time, but it comes so easy to them.
They're emersed in Chinese culture at West Cobb Prep demAcay. They know Mandarin
songs and Chinese writing is all around the classroom.
Their Mandarin teacher doesn't speak any English with them, yet, they seem to understand
everything she said.
"They can know the calendars and the boys and the girls. And, even they can count
from one to maybe 99. Some of them they can write simple chinese words like left
and right," said their teacher Fran Chan, who is in the United States from China
specificially to teach the classes.
"We are the first state in the nation to have Mandarin language in our state funded
Pre-K program," said Bright from the Start
Commissioner, Holly Robinson, of Georgia's Early Care and Learning Division.
This program is in seven lottery-funded Pre-K classrooms in Georgia thanks to a grant
from Kennesaw State University's Confucius Institute.
The teacher is on loan from the Chinese government and it's a first for that country
to have someone teach Mandarin elsewhere to kids so young.
Yet, everyone is finding they catch-on quickly.
"Because all the brain research tells us that all their syntaxes aren't closed yet.
So, they're just absorbing this," said Robinson.
Promoting a global atmosphere is important to the owner of the West Cobb Prep Academy,
Bose Imoukehuede, who is Nigerian.
"Some of them cannot speak English, but with the Mandarin, it's an open flow for
everybody," said Imoukehuede.
Some of the children are becoming not just bilinugual, but trilingual.
"They have started Spanish and then doing Spanish from Pre-K through 12th grade.
Now this class will be doing Spanish, Mandarin and English, pre-k though 12th grade,"
Bright from the Start is trying to place the Mandarin programs where the children
can continue the language. A few of the public schools in Georgia teach Mandarin
at the elementary level that then feeds into middle and high schools.