As Mandarin Chinese language instruction becomes more popular in U.S. schools, a lack of qualified teachers has caused some schools to consider using distance-education technologies to conduct classes. Mandarin Chinese is the world's most widely spoken language, but it's only just beginning to surface in U.S. classrooms, especially at the elementary level.

Like most educators whose schools have started Chinese language programs recently, officials with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS)--which launched a Mandarin Chinese language program in 1999--hope their program will help prepare students for life and work in the new global economy, one where

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