Chinese is a very old language, perhaps even the oldest according to one recently found text. Even the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics may be a younger language! Though formed thousands of years ago, it is still a living language, a fact that has prompted some to refer to the Chinese language as a living fossil.
It is spoken by more people than any other language. According to Wikipedia, “About one-fifth of the world’s population, or over one billion people, speak some form of Chinese as their native language.” Some of the countries or region where Chinese is either the official or at least a major language are China (PRC), Taiwan, Singapore. It is also spoken by millions of people in Chinese communities in other countries around the world. Mandarin, the Beijing dialect, is the predominant and official dialect of China and is one of the six official languages spoken at the United Nations.
The spoken language is tonal with Mandarin having four tones and Cantonese (the second most widely spoken dialect) having six tones. The tones of Mandarin are comprised of (1) a high, flat tone, (2) a rising tone, (3) a falling, then rising tone, and (4) a fast falling tone.
In 1949 the Chinese government undertook a comprehensive script reform that included defining a standardization guide for pronunciation of Mandarin, the dialect chosen to be the official language. In the mid-1950’s a romanization system, known as pinyin, was adopted to enable speakers of different dialects to speak Mandarin with pronunciation as defined by the new standard. Pinyin has turned out to be useful as well for foreigners who want to learn Mandarin. The earlier examples in pinyin are “Wo shi Meiguoren.” and “yi, er, san, si, wu, liu, qi, ba, jiu, shi”.
The written language evolved from a pictographic form. The fact that written language was originally recorded on turtle shells and animal bones, it is easy to understand why the overall form has linear rather than curved forms which are difficult to carve on hard surfaces. Thus each word has its own character (that is, symbol) rather than being comprised of letters as is done in western languages. There are about 50,000 Chinese characters although a working vocabulary of only 3,000 to 4,000 is sufficient to be able read a newspaper with a moderate level of understanding.
As we move into the twenty first century, more and more people around the world are learning Chinese than ever before. A recent report puts the number of people worldwide learning Chinese at 400,000. Perhaps this is not surprising due to the increasingly important role China plays in world affairs. In the United States, several cities have designated Chinese as a critical world language and are making substantial efforts to significantly enlarge the pool of young people who are fluent in Chinese.
Our exchange students from the Beijing Foreign Language School arrived last week and we are so excited they are here! This week they visited the John Hancock building, the Chicago Art Institute, the Shedd Aquarium, and City Hall. A huge thank you to Ms. Aquino for all of her planning and to our families for […]
http://lasalle2school.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/IMG_5036-1.jpg450600Lauren Albani//lasalle2school.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/LaSalle-II-Logo-200x135.pngLauren Albani2019-01-28 10:34:432019-01-28 10:34:43Welcome to our visitors from Beijing!
We had the pleasure of hosting exchange students and teachers from Angers, France the last two weeks in October. Sixteen students came from Collège Mongazon to stay with host families at LaSalle II. Since the French students travel back to France the day before Halloween we decided to throw them an American Halloween-themed going away […]
First grade students in Spanish room 203 begin the year with La oruga muy hambrienta, also known as The Very Hungry Caterpillar! We read the book and sequence the foods the caterpillar eats according to the days of the week using flip books we create, as well as discuss our own food preferences. We also […]
On Saturday, April 21st, Gabrielle D. and Natalie D., two of our Chinese language students, participated in the 10th Midwest Chinese Speech Contest and won two gold medals for LaSalle II. Congratulations to them! Over the past nine years 34 LaSalle II students have participated in the Midwest Chinese speech contest. Gabrielle and Natalie are […]
http://lasalle2school.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/image.png344428Lauren Albani//lasalle2school.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/LaSalle-II-Logo-200x135.pngLauren Albani2018-05-04 08:30:002018-10-02 09:01:18Good News from Our Chinese Program!
Exchange students from Spain spent two weeks in Chicago in March. They had a great opportunity to learn about different cultures by observing classes at school, during their visits to different places in the city and also with their host families. This has been the fourth year that students come from Madrid and now it […]