Originally published by ischool Guide-10/16/2105 

By: Sarah Guaglione 

Carola McGiffert has a big goal to reach by 2020: get one million U.S. K-12 students learning Mandarin.

The president of the 100,000 Strong Foundation is in charge of leading President Barack Obama’s 1 Million Strong initiative, which he unveiled in September. The initiative aims to increase the number of U.S. children learning Mandarin in school from 200,000 to 1 million by 2020, the Huffington Post reports.

McGiffert explained to the publication how the initiative will find teachers to teach the potentially 800,000 more K-12 students in Mandarin classes.

“We rely heavily on the generous support of the Chinese government, which sends us hundreds of teachers every year. While we are deeply appreciative of this and want it to continue, it’s not enough. It’s never going to scale to be able to meet the demand,” she admitted.

To get more American teachers, the 1 Million Strong initiative will work with organizations like ACTFL, the American Council On The Teaching Of Foreign Languages, which train and support the training of foreign language teachers.

“I learned that you don’t have to be fluent in a language to be an effective language teacher,” McGiffert said.

McGiffert sees this as a good thing, as it “opens the door for more young Americans who are highly proficient.”

“It creates opportunities for them to enter the teaching field in Mandarin. Perhaps they’re not teaching the most advanced classes. I think that’s one way to get a lot of young people right out of college and graduate school to be excited about becoming a teacher and using their Mandarin skills,” she said.

In 2009, the 100,000 Strong Initiative successfully increased the number of Americans studying abroad in China to 100,000 since the program began, up from just 13,000 during the 2007-2008 school year.

Read the original ischool guide article here.