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.