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Willmar Senior High to have teacher from China next school year


WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District Mandarin Chinese program will participate in two U.S. State Department programs in the coming year.

The district will host a teacher from China for the 2011-12 school year, and Chinese teacher Todd Lynum will participate in an intensive study program in China this summer.

It will be the second time in three years Willmar has been chosen to host a teacher through the State Department's Teachers of Critical Languages Program.

The program pays for all expenses for the visiting teachers. Bai Jingo, an English teacher from Harbin, China, lived and taught in Willmar during the 2009-10 school year.

Lynum said Friday that the district has been notified that it was accepted to the program but does not know anything specific yet about the teacher who will be arriving in August.

"It's always a good boost for our program," he said, as it gives students a chance to learn from a native-speaker and get to know someone from China.

Students in Chinese classes this spring have been helping him prepare an introductory video for the visiting teacher, to give him or her some information about the Willmar area, he said.

Lynum will study in China for six weeks this summer in a State Department program designed for teachers of Chinese who are non-native speakers.

The participants will take part in small or individual classes for five hours a day and will sign an agreement to speak only Chinese while participating in the program, Lynum said. The program will be based at the University of Chang Chun in northeastern China in the area formerly called Manchuria.

"It sounds a little intimidating," he said, but he is looking forward to the challenge.

It has been 27 years since he has been in China. "Professionally, it will help me a great deal," he said. "I can reacquaint myself with what China is like today."

The program will give him a chance to discuss lesson plans and curriculum goals with other teachers of Chinese, too, Lynum said.

Lynum said the Willmar Chinese program is planning an international trip during spring break 2012, the first time the program has made such a trip. The Spanish program goes to Spain every other year.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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