DURHAM — Children as young as 6 will learn Mandarin Chinese next year at Burton Elementary School, a magnet program for global studies and foreign languages.
The school offers three foreign languages, and will phase out its German classes over the next two years to implement Chinese courses, said Principal Philip Holmes. Students may also take Spanish or French.
"We wanted to look at languages around the world, not just the European languages," Holmes said. "With the number of Chinese speakers in the world and the level of U.S. collaboration with China, it just seemed like the obvious choice."
At Burton, kindergartners spend nine weeks learning each of the three languages offered at the school. They choose one of the three options to pursue, and spend 30 to 35 minutes a day in language classes through the fifth grade, Holmes said.
Durham officials said Monday they have plans to offer Chinese at Shepard Middle and Hillside High schools in the future so students can continue learning the language.