Chinese is a class that has been at SJHS for three years. There are two Chinese classes; one is called “Intro to Chinese,” which is for eighth graders, and the other is a regular Chinese class for the ninth graders. Mrs. Debra Wells, the Chinese teacher at SJHS, said that “Intro to Chinese” is only one semester and it focuses on learning to communicate in Chinese. But the ninth grade class is a full year long, and covers communicating orally in Chinese and requires the students to learn about 150 Chinese characters by the end of the year. Both classes cover cultural elements of the Chinese language and Chinese speaking countries in the world. Mrs. Wells said, “We already learned about Chinese Valentine’s Day and next week we will celebrate the Mid-Autmn festival.”
Mrs. Wells also said that by the end of this semester, eighth grade students will be able to hold basic conversations in Chinese, introduce themselves, and talk about their families and things they like to do. By the end of the ninth grade course, students will be able to talk about their families, school, sports, occupations and food all in Chinese. They will also be able to write basic notes in Chinese and read letters from their pen pals.
In Mrs. Wells's class, students play a lot of games to help review vocabulary and learn new sentence patterns. The classes are divided into teams named after cites in China. Mrs. Wells said, “Each day the teams complete a different 'challenge' and the top teams at the end of two weeks will be the grand prize winners.”
Mrs. Wells said, “I first studied Chinese over 30 years ago, and I loved it so much I kept studying I have traveled to Asia for Chinese classes for the last three summers, since I became a public school teacher, and I intend to keep on studying and learning. Whenever I tell someone I'm a teacher, they just nod their heads but if I say 'I teach Chinese,' they are amazed and want to know more. So, if you really want to impress your friends, learn Chinese!”
Radley Nelson, a student at SJHS, said, “I think it’s very interesting to know about other cultures.” He also says that this will help him if he ever goes to China or meets a Chinese person. Vicky Ha, a student at SJHS that was born in Mainland China said, “I like Chinese class because we play a lot of games and the teacher is very nice."