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EDUCATION REPORT - Chinese, Italian Added to Advanced Placement Program - 2003-12-18

Broadcast: December 18, 2003

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

The College Board says its Advanced Placement program will add four new languages for American high school students. Mandarin Chinese along with Italian will be added within three years. Japanese and Russian will be offered later. This means the best high school students will be able to take college-level courses in these four new languages.

The Chinese government and the Italian government have each agreed to pay part of the cost of developing the Advanced Placement programs. Chinese officials say they will also help create the program in Chinese language and culture.

College Board officials say the study of a world language, such as Chinese, is an important part of a student’s high school education.

More than one-million students at more than fourteen-thousand American high schools took at least one Advanced Placement test this year after taking an AP class.

The AP program is increasingly important among high school classes for the best students. Colleges often give high school students credit for an AP class if the students do well on the test. Colleges require a set number of credits before a student may graduate. Credit for AP classes may help some students graduate from college earlier.

The Advanced Placement program in American high schools has expanded over the years. There are now thirty-four classes and tests in nineteen subject areas. They include history, mathematics and English. But, until now, the languages included only Spanish, French and German. These are the most popular languages in American high schools.

The American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages says Spanish is the most commonly taught language in American high schools. About four-million high school students study Spanish. It is followed by French, German, Italian, Russian and Japanese.

The College Board notes that most high school students in China study English. However, only about fifty-thousand American high school students study Chinese. This may change because of the new AP language program. The Chinese ambassador to the United States spoke about the new AP program. Yang Jiechi said: “The bridge of understanding and friendship cannot be built without language.”

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Shelley Gollust. This is Steve Ember.