The days of only Spanish and French being offered as foreign languages in schools are long gone. Now, increasingly in Connecticut schools, students have the option to learn Mandarin Chinese.
In the Simsbury school district, Chinese is offered in the middle and high schools.
"It's really important to be able to share experiences with people from other cultures," said junior, Nick Mazzali.
Teacher Amy Watts, has been perfecting her speaking skills since she was a freshman in college. She’s also spent time learning and teaching in China.
"Everybody thinks the writing must be so difficult how can they manage that. But in reality it's fun to write and fun to learn so it helps the students with motivation a lot," Watts said.
Freshman Marissa Klein agrees: "You have to learn all the different words and the way to set it up in sentences is different than English, like different words go in different places," she said.
This is the second year Chinese has been offered in Simsbury.
"We actually had students that had been waiting they had families and they had heard it was coming the rumors had started we'd be offering Chinese and so they were eagerly waiting," said Watts.
A few years ago only a handful of schools offered Chinese. Now, the state department of education says it's offered at more than thirty schools statewide.
The West Hartford school district started its Chinese program three years ago. Today, it's more popular than ever.
"We're really pleased with the response of Chinese in our schools," said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Karen List, PhD.
List says the district hopes to eventually expand the program. "I do expect we'll continue to have students who want to study at advanced levels. I would hope at some point we'll could offer AP Chinese," she said.
"Communication is the most important skill people can learn. Communicating with each other is probably one of the most important things we can do as a person," said Watts.