Confucius Classroom opens at Montgomery public school

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The first Confucius classroom at a Montgomery school is now open.

Auburn Montgomery Confucius Institute has teamed up with Wares Ferry Road Elementary to create the classroom.

The students have their own teacher, a native of China, dedicated to help them learn to speak, read, and write in Mandarin, while also learning about the culture.

Just any other subject, Kindergarten through 5th grade students will spend time in the class everyday learning to speak the language and understand Chinese customs.

"For many people, the Chinese language is very difficult to pronounce, but if the kids do it quick and earlier, they can do it perfectly," said Yiyul Liu, a teacher and program administrator with AUM Confucius Institute.

She added, "I want them to know they are in a world that has a different group of people that speak a different language. They may never go abroad, but they can still {think} 'oh there is something different, I can experience it and it's so different from us.'"

"It's an opportunity to teach these young people Chinese at a young enough age that it will be easier for them to learn," said John Veres, Chancellor at Auburn Montgomery.

Leaders admit it's more than just furthering education, they believe it's a business opportunity and a way to move Alabama further.

"We are getting to that tipping point with China where it's cheaper for their manufacturers to manufacture their goods closer to their American consumers. If they are going to build factories in the U.S., why not build them in Alabama?" said Veres.

"This is an economic development opportunity, and the more people know about China and the more Chinese speakers we can produce, the more likely we are to be able to attract those businesses to our state."

The new classroom and the hiring of a Chinese language teacher were funded by a first-year $10,000 start-up gr ant by the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Bejing.

The AUM Confucius Institute is working to get into more schools here in the capitol city.

If you would like to learn Chinese, AUM Confucius Institute offers classes for free on the weekends for adults and children. The only cost is for the book. For more information visit:

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