Just another Monday in class, learning
Mandarin Chinese. No sweat
says third grader Antwoine Moore.
Asked how people react when they learn he's taking Chinese, Antwoine answers, "They say, no you're not... But after I speak Chinese, they're like, "What school do you go to?"
College Station Elementary in the Pulaski County Special School District. And the students love it.
"It's fun. It's great. I love my classmates," said student Kimberly Riera.
The kids also love their teacher, Qian Zhang, who came to the United States from China for the first time a couple of months ago.
"It's overwhelming," Zhang admitted about her first trip to the states. "I get frustrated easily in the first week. Very easily, I mean... The language, the culture, are all so different from Chinese people."
But the teacher has a good sense of humor, laughing often, and smiling enthusiastically when students answer correctly.
Zhang says she's one of seven Chinese teachers recently hired by the Arkansas Department of Education to teach Mandarin Chinese.
"They think it's more and more important for American kids to learn Chinese," Zhang said. "China now plays a more important role in international economy and politics."
But these kids aren't discussing politics, but focusing on what Zhang calls "Survival Chinese," or simple things students would need to know if they were to visit China.
All the students knew how to say their names in Chinese, and other phrases like good morning, or dinner.
What about one of the most important survival phrases of all- where's the bathroom?
"We didn't learn that," Riera said, laughing.
But Zhang says students aren't just learning the spoken language.
"If you know how to write boy or girl, when you go to China, you won't go in the wrong bathroom," Zhang said. "That's very simple, and that's very important, right?"