Language Policy

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 27–52 | Cite as

Building Societal Capital: Chinese in the US



Since the late 1980s, closely following the economic boom of the four tigers of Asia (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea) Chinese language programs have begun to take a foothold in the educational system of the US (Rhodes and Lucinda, 1997; Welles, ADFL Bulletin 35 (2004) 2). The rapid rise of the PRC as an emerging superpower in the past decade commands unprecedented attention from the international communities (World Bank (2002). Globalization, Growth, and Poverty: A World Bank Policy Research Report. Oxford University Press; Friedman (2005) The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux). This desire to establish Chinese programs is clearly demonstrated from a 2004 College Board survey, in which 2,400 US high schools indicated that they would be interested in offering Chinese programs that lead students to take the Advanced Placement Course and Examination for college credits (College Board (2004),,51453,00.html). While the survey reveals a fascination with Chinese which presents an opportunity for future expansion, the inadequacy of the entire Chinese language teaching field in the U.S. in responding to this demand is simultaneously exposed. This article analyzes the Chinese case specifically from the perspective of the presence of HL speakers and links between the HL reality of Chinese and the demand for Chinese as a foreign language. The outlines of a new paradigm for language planning in the US using the Chinese case emerge from this discussion.


Chinese language education heritage languages language policy and planning 



Annual Yearly Progress


Chinese Language Association of Secondary Schools and Elementary Schools


English Language Learners


Foreign Language Assistance Program


Foreign Language


Heritage Language


Hong Kong Special Administrative Region


Chinese Proficiency Test for Foreigners


Languages other than English


No Child Left Behind Act


National Council of Associations of Chinese Language Schools


National Defense Education Act


The Office of Chinese Language Council International (www.


National Security Education Program


National Foreign Language Center


National Flagship Language Initiative


National Security Language Initiative


People’s Republic of China


United States of America


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The author wishes to thank Dr. Carol Ann Dahlberg for her comments on the draft of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chinese Language InitiativesAsia SocietyNew YorkUSA

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