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Friday, March 09, 2007

Michigan: A Peninsula Where They Speak Chinese

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Starting next month, one student from every Michigan high school, public or private, is eligible for a free semester of online instruction in Mandarin Chinese. A consortium that includes the China Central Radio and TV University in Beijing is behind the scholarships. The courses were developed by Michigan State University's Confucius Institute and the Michigan virtual school, they are an effort to better position the state for a tough global economy.

Building cars and the Big 10 no longer make the state great. It is clearly looking for a leg up. The cookie of good fortune has crumbled. Is learning Chinese part of the answer? Some officials say yes.

"Providing an opportunity for high school students to learn Mandarin Chinese online represents a powerful economic development strategy for Michigan and gives our young people a competitive edge that will benefit them for the rest of their lives."

Thats from James Epolito, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the state's economic-development arm.

Michigan has a two-year world language learning requirement that students must meet to finish high school. Chinese isn't usually available in traditional classroom settings. The courses cover five hours a week, and students can work from school or home.

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