In the coming years Mandarin Chinese will be an integral piece of a good American education, and local school districts are starting to teach the language and culture.

In the coming years Mandarin Chinese will be an integral piece of a good American education, and local school districts are starting to teach the language and culture.

To spur interest, this summer the Metro High School will host a Chinese immersion summer camp.

"(Chinese is a) critical language and is in high demand and high need in both industry and the government," said Mary Raymond, Metro principal. "If you look at the country itself, in four years there will be more Chinese speaking people in the United States than English speaking."

She said China is an emerging economic power and students could get a leg up knowing the language.

The free program, sponsored by the Ohio State University K-12 Flagship Program, will help students learn basic Chinese skills during a two-week camp. The camp is open to 25 Franklin County students with some Chinese language education.

Admission to the program, which runs June 16-27, is first-come, first-served.

Raymond said the program will be put on by native speakers who live in Franklin County.

Galal Walker, director of the flagship program, said it is one part of what makes central Ohio unique when it comes to learning Mandarin Chinese.

With OSU and other programs students interested in Mandarin Chinese have a vast array of opportunities.

"In central Ohio and around Ohio State we have the resource for those who are interested in Chinese from the very beginning level to the very highest level you can attain," Walker said. "If students want to get started this summer they can go in and continue it as long as they want."

Metro High School offers Chinese class on three levels. Raymond said she was surprised at the number of students taking the courses.

"I never ever expected in a class of 100 students for a little over half to choose Chinese," she said.

Students at the camp will study not only the language but also areas such as culture and food.

"Everything they will do will be in Chinese," Raymond said.

In addition, those in the program will correspond with Metro High School students in China.

"We will be able to have all the kids who are in China talking to the kids being immersed in Chinese," Raymond said.

The program is being provided in conjunction with several other entities, including Gahanna Lincoln High School, the Catholic Diocese of Columbus and the Ohio Contemporary Chinese School. Similar camps are being held in Cleveland and Dayton.

For details, call Raymond at 247-2276 or go to k12chineseflagship.osu.edu.