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10 May, 2010 20:35

Young Americans learn language of competition

As China's role in the world grows, Americans are looking for ways to prepare themselves for the future. In Washington, DC, the department of education is putting money into a school that teaches students in Chinese.

 While the United States’ economy continues to struggle, countries like China are experiencing growth in nearly every sector. The role of China in the global financial markets has led many Americans to consider the country a good investment. In Washington D.C., the local department of education is putting almost $1 million dollars into a venture they hope will pay rich rewards: Teaching young Americans the language of the competition.

The Washington Yu Ying School is a public school in DC that has a 50-50 Chinese and English curriculum. Elementary school students learn all of their subjects in Chinese every other day. Three years ago, the founders had trouble attracting kids to join the school, but today the school has become so popular that only 10 percent of the applications for the last school year were accepted.

"The Chinese are a political and economic powerhouse. One in 5 people speak Chinese…So there's all these future job opportunities and there's also these great pieces of culture that come along with it as well," said Mary Shaffner, one of the founders of the school.

China and the United States have had a complicated relationship in recent years. From personal disagreements like the U.S. acknowledgement of the Dalai Lama to American arm sales to Taiwan, China has been responding with threats of sanctions, harsh language and selling off American debt.

But it's hard to ignore the superpower status of the Chinese. And many in the center of American power realize the significance of China's rising power in the world.

"I think the parents here though see it as the future for their kids, so they see of course there’s political things that go on and many of them potentially work on China in politics here in Washington so they understand those issues," Shaffner said.