The Future of Mandarin in the Midst of COVID-19

By J1 reporter Liv Birnstihl

Learning a new language is tricky enough as it is. But Mandarin? Now that’s a whole other story. With the removal of Latin from Marian’s foreign language program, the addition of Mandarin was subject for some curiosity among students.

The program, now in its fourth year, has become more and more popular, with increased enrollment every year. 

“I’m so glad I am able to be taking Mandarin considering its importance in today’s world, and have come to appreciate the rich culture behind the language. Even though the complexity of Mandarin has its cons, Shao Laoshi always makes sure we have full understanding,” said junior Maddie Mullen, who is now in Honors Mandarin III.

 It is no question that the students taking Mandarin are enjoying their time with the language whether it be making dumplings, celebrating Chinese holidays, or learning traditional Chinese songs. Mandarin is a language strongly based on its culture, which has proven effective in helping students learn it.

The program has gained a lot of recognition around the Marian community with the various activities that take place within the class. Junior Anna Rasgorshek was in study hall last year when word of dumpling making spread, “It was very interesting to get to see another language at work. I learned a lot about Mandarin culture and cuisine and I thoroughly enjoyed the dumplings. I ate like 20!”

Honors Mandarin III and Honors Mandarin IV on Zoom with Mr. Jun Shao both in person and at home. Photo by Liv Birnstihl. 

Jun Shao, referred to as “Shao Laoshi” by his students, is in his second year of teaching at Marian. Unfortunately, he is in a high risk situation due to COVID-19, causing him to teach from home for the time being. This brought forward the question of how the Mandarin Program will be continuing in the future. As of now, Mandarin will continue to be taught at Marian and Mr. Jun Shao will continue to teach whether it be online or in person.

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