Mandarin Added to World Languages

Steven Wetterholm and Hayley Fredenburgh, Business Manager and Staff Writer

A new foreign language class is spicing up the World Language Department this fall.  The premiere of a beginning Mandarin language class is welcomed by students and teachers alike.

Mandarin now joins the traditional course offerings of Spanish, French, and German, so that high school students have the opportunity to learn the Mandarin language, one of several dialects spoken across China.

The new Mandarin class also marked the debut of a new teacher, Shih-Min Holland, whose native language is Mandarin and who is enthusiastic about teaching it.

Born and raised in Taiwan, Holland moved to southern California as a senior in high school.  After earning her teaching credential, she taught Mandarin in public schools near her home, then moved to northern California to teach in the San Ramon school district, last year at Miramonte, and now at Campolindo.

Holland is excited that Mandarin has come to Campolindo. “It’s really great to be teaching at Campolindo! My classes are diverse, with some students having taken Mandarin at the middle school level and a handful of students who have some prior Mandarin exposure due to family members who speak the language. Although these students may have an ear for the language, they may not have learned how to read and write in Mandarin,” she said.

For those students who are completely new to Mandarin, Holland takes the curriculum at a slower pace so that students establish a firm foundation in the basics and are encouraged to become life-long learners.

A typical day in Holland’s two beginning Mandarin classes consists of warm-up exercises that reinforce concepts learned the previous day, lessons to learn new Mandarin characters, practicing the sounds of Mandarin by listening to audio CDs, and group activities to strengthen language learning.

Senior Julia Curiel has taken classes in every foreign language offered at Campolindo.  Due to her love for languages, she was excited about trying the Mandarin class, especially since Mandarin offers new and different challenges. Mandarin introduced some novel concepts to Curiel, including tones and characters instead of an alphabet.

Curiel explained, “A common assignment is to copy characters repeatedly on paper.” Curiel finds that Mandarin is very challenging and different than any language she has ever taken.

The introduction of Mandarin marks the beginning of a new era in Campolindo’s World Language Department. Lola Danielli, who has been teaching Spanish at Campolindo since 1963, said, “We used to have one Spanish teacher, one French teacher, and one German teacher. Now our foreign language classes are much larger, and we have become more diversified by adding a new language like Mandarin. That’s progress!”