Well over a billion people speak it - its practical, elegant, and interesting. However, we aren't really trying to learn to speak it in class - just study some basic writing. We are just learning a few basic characters, stroke order, and how the number system works over the course of a few lessons.
As far as the purpose in class, learning to write characters seems to help students understand how to focus, and work slowly and smoothly. We use pencils and sharpies to practice, and then move on to brushes and ink.
Mr. Jiang from the 2nd video has a whole series for free on Youtube.
2. Learning Chinese