Associated Press - June 19, 2010 5:55 PM ET
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Language instructors say the rapidly growing Chinese economy is causing French language classes to be phased out and replaced with Mandarin Chinese classes in private and public schools.
The wave of Chinese language offerings includes introductory classes in three Memphis city schools starting in the fall. The offerings are in Mandarin, the most widely spoken dialect.
Laurie Stanton is the assistant head for teaching and learning at the private Hutchison School. She says the decision to offer Chinese was based on a supply & demand philosophy that began with research on student interest in languages nationally.
Stanton says the Modern Language Association did a survey in 2006 showing enrollment in French between 1990 and 2006 was down by 43%. Chinese was up 106%.
Yet another piece of news spells doom for French teaching in North America, making the often-read statement that French is with English the only language spoken on all five continents all the more laughable.