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Scholarships Offered to Every Michigan Public and Private High School for Online Chinese Course

750 high school students offered the opportunity to start learning the most widely spoken language in the world ... Mandarin Chi

LANSING, Mich., March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Confucius Institute at Michigan State University and Michigan Virtual School (MVS) are pleased to announce that they are offering a free semester of online instruction of Mandarin Chinese to one student from every public and private high school in the state. The courses will be offered in spring and fall semesters of 2007 and 2008.

These courses have been developed and are being delivered through a partnership of MSU's Confucius Institute, Michigan Virtual School, China Central Radio and TV University, and the Office of Chinese Language Council International.

"I want to commend each of these organizations for developing these online courses and this innovative scholarship program that is designed to stimulate greater interest in learning about Chinese language and culture," says Kathleen Strauss, President, Michigan State Board of Education. "This scholarship opportunity will help Michigan's students be better prepared to learn and work in the global economy."

"Providing an opportunity for high school students to learn Mandarin Chinese online represents a powerful economic development strategy for Michigan and gives our young people a competitive edge that will benefit them for the rest of their lives," says James Epolito, President and CEO, Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Each high school in the state may submit the name of one student to request a scholarship by April 30 through the school's high school principal. Unused scholarships will be reassigned to other schools/students after that date.

The Confucius Institute and Michigan Virtual High School are making these scholarships available at no cost in order to increase awareness of the program and provide a competitive edge to Michigan students.

"We need students to be more aware of the world and they need to know more world languages," says Dr. Yong Zhao, Director, Confucius Institute at Michigan State University. "We think this scholarship opportunity will dramatically increase the number of Michigan students who will want to study Chinese language and culture, and be prepared for the global economy."

These courses involve four hours of online learning and a one-hour virtual group tutoring session each week with an instructor and a small group of students, normally no more than five. These courses are led by highly trained and qualified native Chinese speaking instructors operating under the auspices of Michigan State University. Students can practice their pronunciation, and converse with peers and instructors in Mandarin Chinese. This individualized approach, with an opportunity to interact with native Chinese speakers, is unique among online world language programs in the U.S.

The online learning can be done from school or home. Students are closely monitored and expected to complete weekly assignments. The online meetings are scheduled one hour per week within and/or outside of normal school hours. These courses can be taken in addition to a regular schedule, or as part of the regular day, depending on how the student and principal wish to arrange it.

In addition to learning the most widely spoken language in the world -- with more than one billion speakers worldwide -- students will learn about Chinese culture and various Web resources that will expand their understanding of both China and the world. As an added bonus students will gain valuable skills "learning how to learn" a foreign language online that will introduce and prepare them for the world of online learning.

"There are new state high school graduation requirements for both online learning and world language," says Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO, Michigan Virtual University. "These introductory courses meet the online learning requirement and can serve as the first semester of the two-year world language requirement. Chinese is not generally available in a traditional classroom setting; those students who learn it online will be gaining a competitive edge."

Applications are being accepted to register a student from each high school in the state for the chance to learn Mandarin Chinese at no cost. All applications must be submitted by April 30 through the student's high school principal or other authorized school district official. Only one application per school will be accepted.

Principals wishing to request a scholarship for one of their students should go to http://www.mivhs.org/chinese.

Michigan Virtual University

CONTACT: Erin Strang of Michigan Virtual University, +1-517-324-5373

Web site: http://www.mivu.org/

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