When classes resume for local students later this summer, adults will also have the opportunity to go back to school by taking classes through the Columbus Chinese Language School.

Each year, the Chinese Language School offers classes in Chinese language and culture to children and adults in the Columbus area. The school is currently accepting students for its adult classes, which focus on learning the basics of verbal Chinese.

Pete Lustig, the adult teacher at the language school, said his class is more of a course in learning to speak Chinese than to write it. The lessons focus less on learning the hundreds of characters used in the Chinese language and more on developing the ability to speak the language with a level of fluency.

“It’s really just building a foundation to be able to speak the language,” Lustig said.

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The adult language teacher said he began learning Chinese when he studied abroad at 21 years old. He is now married to a Chinese woman, so he said he is constantly working to improve his own linguistic abilities.

“It’s something I’m really passionate about,” Lustig said.

The adult classes are geared toward local residents who have little to no experience speaking Chinese but who want to learn to better communicate with their friends or co-workers, the same way Lustig learned when he was living abroad.

While the class is predominantly taken by adults, occasionally teenagers who were adopted from China before learning the language fluently also will enroll in the adult course as a way of staying connected with their native culture, Lustig said.

The course is largely a language course, but Lustig said on special occasions in the Chinese calendar, such as the Chinese New Year, guest speakers will come in to teach a course that is more focused on Chinese culture.

Right now the school only offers a basic introductory course, but Lustig said his goal is to grow the program in the future and begin offering higher-level language courses for repeat students.

Residents who enroll in the Columbus Chinese Language School will pay about $200 per semester for the course, plus the cost of purchasing a textbook online.

Classes will follow the same schedule used by Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.

How to sign up

Fall classes at the Columbus Chinese Language School will meet from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. every Sunday at Central Middle School, 725 Seventh St. The school follows the academic calendar used by Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. To sign up for adult language classes through the Columbus Chinese Language School, contact Pete Lustig at plustig0385@gmail.com.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.