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Distance Learning: the future of education?

October 21, 2013 by Martha Mastrianni

For the past three school years, Saratoga Springs High School has been offering Distance Learning classes in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. Distance Learning provides students with the opportunity to study a new language, even though there are no Chinese or Japanese teachers here at Saratoga Springs High School.

Until this year, both courses were only offered at level one. Last year, however, a few students who had taken the Japanese I class wanted to learn more. They made a request at guidance, and now, possibly for this year only, Saratoga Springs High School offers a Japanese II class.

“There are four students in the Chinese I class, nine in the Japanese I class, and four in the Japanese II class” said Mrs. Battle, who runs the distance learning classes from the Saratoga side.

Mr. Hoyt is the Chinese teacher from Maple Hill High School, in Castleton-on-Hudson. He teaches not only Maple Hill students, but SSHS and Columbia High School (in East Greenbush) students as well.

According to Hoyt, the languages that people want to study “depend on current events.  During the Cold War, more students wanted to study Russian. After 9-11, it was Arabic.”

As China is on the cusp of surpassing the United States as the world’s largest national economy, and as China has the largest population of any country in the world, Mandarin is all the rage right now. Japan’s and China’s significance in the world economy makes these language skills very sought after by many employers. However, because not a lot of people know about Saratoga High’s Distance Learning classes, there are only seventeen students currently enrolled DL classes at SSHS.

Senior Mary Gailor ’14 took Japanese in the 2012-2013 school year, and is taking Mandarin this school year.

“It’s really a lot like a regular class” said Gailor.  “The teacher is right there” she said. For Gailor and the few others who have discovered distance learning, having a teacher on a screen is no obstacle to learning.

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