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Mandarin Chinese introduced as Ireland’s Leaving Certificate subject

By Sun Wenyu (People's Daily Online)    15:45, December 08, 2017

Students of Confucius Institute at University College Dublin show their Chinese calligraphy. (File photo)

Mandarin Chinese has been introduced as a subject in Ireland’s Leaving Certificate exam, the final examination in the Irish middle school system, according to a 10-year foreign language teaching strategy released by the Irish government on Dec. 4.

The strategy, said a government official, is an important measure to cope with the rise of non-English speaking countries and the Brexit issue. Starting in 2020, Mandarin Chinese will be an optional course for middle school students in the country, and it will become an exam subject in 2022.

The plan sets out a roadmap to put Ireland in the top ten countries in Europe for the teaching and learning of foreign languages.

The plan states that Ireland should be fully prepared for the upcoming challenges, given the ever-changing situations in the global context and Europe.

As the largest English-speaking country in the European Union after the Brexit, Ireland said it must take the teaching of foreign language as a major strategy, in order to maintain its status in the international community.

Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills (DES) believes that these challenges also suggest opportunities. “Ireland positions itself as a small but open economy in the global economic center,” the department said, adding that the new strategy will ensure the maximum utilization of resources and the ability of the education system to cope with the ever-changing global environment.

Mandarin Chinese has been listed as one of the eight languages that will have a major impact on the country’s future. The DES noted that the number of dual-language middle schools will be increased by a quarter, and the country will see 25% more students taking bilingual tests in the Leaving Certificate.

According to Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Ireland has witnessed an increase in the number of people learning Chinese and studying in China in recent years.

There are two successfully operated Confucius Institutes in Ireland, with one at University College Dublin and the other at University College Cork. Through the efforts of the two institutes, more and more Irish graduates have mastered basic knowledge of Chinese language and culture.

The new foreign language strategy released by Ireland indicates a larger demand for Chinese language teachers of the country in the future, an overseas expert said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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