This paper examines the state of the Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) education system in the United States at the K-12 level. The approach to this research first demonstrates the importance of Chinese language expertise to the United States government as well as to private citizens in light of economic opportunities and national security interests. After establishing the relevance of engagement with China on multiple levels and therefore the appropriateness of learning Chinese (specifically Mandarin, but also Cantonese), the focus turns to the institutional and pedagogical aspects of K-12 Chinese education. On the institutional level, CFL programs are spreading across the nation. Problems with funding, teacher training, and underdeveloped curriculum are mitigating factors to program success in many cases. On the pedagogical level, differences between the educational cultures of Chinese teachers and American students can hamper classroom learning, along with inherent difficulties with Mandarin Chinese. Task Based Language Teaching (TBLT) offers a promising teaching methodology, although it remains an understudied and novel approach. While many CFL programs are successful, improvements are necessary across the board as student attrition due to structural problems prevents a sufficient number of Chinese language experts from entering relevant professional fields. A National Strategy to unify CFL program development and resources is proposed to help schools struggling with adequate Chinese language course offerings. Other practical measures can be taken to improve the quality and overall presence of CFL programs across the country, thus ensuring both economic opportunities and national security interests are satisfied.
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Miller, J. C. (2021). Chinese as a Foreign Language in the K-12 Education System of the United States: Challenges and Opportunities [Masterʼs thesis, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/444