First Chinese-Spanish public school thrives in Argentina

GMT 16:10 2015 Tuesday ,24 March

Arab Today, arab today First Chinese-Spanish public school thrives in Argentina

First Chinese-Spanish public school
Buenos Aires - XINHUA

Buenos Aires is home to the world's first Chinese-Spanish bilingual public school, a boon to local residents and thousands of Chinese immigrants here, who have long worried about their children's Chinese-language skills.
Three years ago, Xue, mother of six-year-old Maomao, struggled with the decision to send her only child back to China. "It was a tough decision, but I had no choice," she told Xinhua.
At the age of three, the Argentine-born Maomao began to speak more Spanish than Chinese, which caused problems since his mother could not understand him.
"I wanted to communicate well with my son and that would not have been possible if he had grown up here only speaking Spanish," Xue said.
Running a supermarket, 30-year-old Xue was too busy to teach her son Chinese, but she believed that "as a Chinese, he should learn his mother tongue well first."
Xue is not alone among the 120,000 Chinese immigrants in this country.
About 2,000 babies of Chinese descent are born in Argentina every year, and before the Chinese-Spanish bilingual school, most parents would make the tough decision of sending their children back to China for primary education.
But things have changed since the bilingual school was opened a year ago, thanks to joint efforts of the municipal governments of Buenos Aires and Beijing.
Xue brought her son back to Argentina immediately at the news.
"Getting Chinese education here is a dream come true," she said.
So far, Maomao has adapted well to the bilingual environment, and has made many friends among Chinese and Argentine children.
Over the past year, the Chinese-Spanish educational experiment has been progressing smoothly, with the number of students doubling from 50 to 100, half of them Chinese. The school hopes to eventually have some 400 students.
The school has grown from initially offering only kindergarten and preschool to the first and second grades of primary school during the one year period. Students study in Spanish in the morning and in Chinese in the afternoon.
Along with the rapid development of Sino-Argentine relations and the growth of the Chinese immigrant community, the demand for Chinese-language education has been growing.
While Chinese immigrants want their children to maintain their heritage by speaking their mother tongue well, many Argentine families want their children to learn Chinese so they will be more competitive in the labor market when they grow up.
Han Mengtang, the cultural attache at the Chinese Embassy in Argentina, said the school helps forge connections between Chinese immigrants and China, but "more importantly, it builds bridges between the different ethnic cultures in Argentina, among the younger generation."

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