Christine Lee, Irving Reporter
Irving ISD tests a pilot program in which Mandarin is taught over the computer with an instructor based in China.
A Mandarin Chinese class at MacArthur High School is learning the language from a teacher halfway across the world.
The class connects to a live feed twice per week with a teacher in China.
"This is what she does for a living, and at 2 a.m., she's sitting in front of a classroom talking to my kids," facilitator Paula D'Spain said.
D'Spain said Superintendent Dana Bedden wanted a school to offer the language this semester.
"We live now in a global economy, and everything seems to focus around China," she said.
Students say they're enjoying the class so far and want to continue taking more advanced classes if they're offered.
"It's definitely something that's cool to say, 'Hey, I learned Chinese in high school, and I can say some things, and I can communicate,'" Katie Giese said.
But they also said learning from an online teacher can have its frustrating moments.
"Sometimes, because we're webcamming with her, it freezes," Eunice Kim said.
Diana Magana said it's also challenging because there is no face-to-face interaction and she doesn't get direct feedback.
But despite the challenges, the students said the positives outweighed any negatives.
"She's actually in China. She went there for the studies, so it feels more proper and actually formal," Kim said.
Two classes in the Irving Independent School District are learning Mandarin Chinese as part of a pilot program.
District officials said they are closely monitoring the program and hope to expand it in the future.
D'Spain said more students have expressed interest in the class since the semester began.