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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended August 13, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 15Aug00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS Teacher Brings Chinese To Southern California

LAS FLORES, CALIFORNIA -- An LDS teacher in Orange county, California, has led a "cultural revolution" there, bringing Chinese language and culture to 900 students. Steve Cook, who served an LDS mission to Taiwan, is winning praise for his Chinese classes, which have grown from a 25-student after-school program to a full-time federally funded Chinese programs that teaches 20% of elementary and high school students learning Chinese in the state.

Cook says he first developed an interest in the Chinese language and culture as a boy on a trip to San Francisco's Chinatown. After serving an LDS mission to Taiwan, Cook got a degree in Mandarin from BYU and moved back to California getting work as an interpreter and later as a history and English teacher.

Three years ago he started a Chinese club that attracted 25 students. Now he has classes in two elementary schools in addition to the middle school where he started. The three-year $269,000 federal grant he received for the program allowed the schools to hire an additional teacher and expand the program from the middle school into the elementary schools last year and to a high school next year.

Cook is successful, according to his students, because he makes his classes fun and infuses them with Chinese culture. He "wears traditional Chinese masks to class. He bangs gongs. He burns incense. He leads his students on wild field trips." Cook took his students to Chinatown and led them on a search for Chinese cultural artifacts, like an acupuncturist, shark fins, and live rabbits to eat.

One student, William Drew, 13, loves the classes. "I hate all my other classes," he says. His parents are very pleased also, "We never thought he'd go further than nine weeks," said Sheena Drew. "Now he thinks he's going to be a very wealthy international businessman when he grows up."

Chinese program talk of South O.C.
Orange co CA Register 9Aug00 P2
By Keith Sharon: The Orange County Register
A dynamic teacher leads a growing Mandarin-language program for kids.


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