Pittsburgh Chinese Academy: Teaching Students Culture and Language

By Stephanie Wang – 12th Grade, Peters Township High School

These days, there are a ton of opportunities to learn a new language, whether that be through YouTube videos, podcasts, or an online-based program like Rosetta Stone. However, a lot of these options lose one vital part of the language learning process: the personal aspect. That’s exactly what makes the Pittsburgh Chinese Academy so different. The Pittsburgh Chinese Academy was founded in Fall of 2007 with the intention of being a local Chinese language school that conveniently serves the South Hills and brings a more personal experience to language learning.


While the school has certainly expanded since then, the average class size is still only 5 students, which allows the teachers to teach their classes in a way that caters to the interests and learning styles of his or her students. The school meets at the Center Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoons September through May and all teachers are native mandarin speakers. What also makes the Pittsburgh Chinese Academy different is the variety of courses the school offers. Course offerings include an hour of culture class (kung fu, chess, Chinese conversation, drawing, and dance) and an hour and a half of Chinese language. In addition, the school also offers Chinese martial arts and self-defense classes taught by martial art expert Sifu Cedric Flowers. There are also classes for beginners and advanced speakers, as the school offers classes from Introduction to Chinese with no writing to Levels 1 to 7 that involve reading, writing, and speaking. While there currently there isn’t an adult-only class, all ages are welcome to come learn at the school.


Today, with our global and interconnected economy, learning another language is essential. Lily, a teacher at the Pittsburgh Chinese Academy says, “Language is a tool of communication. The study of the Chinese language can open a door for you in the future for your career. About 1/5 of the global population are speaking Chinese. . China has become a huge market, and business leaders are looking for people who can speak Chinese and operate successfully in a Chinese cultural context.”


Another special thing about the school is that it welcome students from all ethnicities. The school has students from multiple nationalities–the background of students is about half Chinese-American (speaking Chinese at home) and half non-Chinese speaking families.


Not only do the students become more culturally aware at the Pittsburgh Chinese Academy but they also have fun doing it. Says Larry, a student at the Pittsburgh Chinese Academy, “I can learn how to read and write Chinese.  Now I think it is very cool to be able to speak, read, and write Chinese.” The school also has a huge Chinese New Year Party each year featuring performances from each of the classes and other groups and individuals. I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering for this party for a few years now, and it’s always an enjoyable night with performances, games, authentic food, and good company.


Regardless of age, the Pittsburgh Chinese Academy is something everyone should look into, whether it’s to learn another language, become more marketable to employers, or for something fun to do on Sunday afternoons. For more information or to sign up, please email principal@pittsburghchineseacademy.org or call Deb Busche at 724-941-8974.




Stephanie Wang 2

Stephanie Wang is a rising senior at Peters Township High School. She was a PYM Reporter last year and is the current head editor of Business Funnel. Stephanie has been published in media outlets like the Almanac and Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette. Besides writing, Stephanie enjoys cooking and making bad puns.

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