Feature: Mandarin learning flourish in British schools

(Xinhua) 14:55, September 22, 2023

LONDON, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Mandarin teaching and learning are flourishing in British primary and secondary schools, said attendees on Thursday at an award presenting ceremony here for a Mandarin speaking competition.

According to the organizer of the 2023 "Chinese Bridge" Mandarin Speaking Competition for UK Schools &the Primary Chinese Show, more than 240 students from 60 secondary schools as well as more than 400 students from 34 primary schools took part in the contest.

Thomas Sharma, the winner of the first prize in the advanced level of individual language ability of the UK Regional Final, is from Queen Mary's Grammar School. He is going to travel to China in October and compete in the 2023 "Chinese Bridge" World Finals.

During the award presenting ceremony, Sharma said that learning Chinese had a "tremendous impact" on him and that the experience of participating in the "Chinese Bridge" competition will be remembered for the rest of his life.

"I will continue to learn Chinese and share the charm of Mandarin and the richness of Chinese culture," he said.

Jayeola Adenuga, a 10th grader from Becket Keys Church of England Secondary School in Essex, won the first prize in "Key Stage 3 Individual Show".

Adenuga told Xinhua that he has been learning Mandarin for three years. In order to have a better result in the competition, he kept practising the "UK schools vs. Chinese schools rap" for about one month.

Many winners like Adenuga and Sharma are benefiting from a Mandarin teaching program called Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP), which was launched in 2016.

Supported by the UK Department for Education, MEP is jointly carried out by the UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools and the British Council.

It has helped thousands of school pupils learn Mandarin Chinese through classroom teaching, self-study, intensive study and immersive cultural experiences.

Katharine Carruthers, director of IOE Confucius Institute for Schools, told Xinhua that 14 schools joined MEP in the first year. The figure increased to 81 this year and is expected to reach 100 next year.

The children are given four hours of Chinese lessons by teachers and four hours of self study with the program, and they make rapid progress, she explained.

Students in the MEP have improved their Chinese language skills a lot, and "the results of the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) have been very good indeed," she said, adding that "it's very motivating for the students and for the teachers."

"It is key to enable our young people to connect with others internationally, to build relationships that transcend borders and to support mutual understanding," said Naomi Stauber, deputy director of Curriculum Strategy, Humanities, English, Arts and Languages Division at the Department for Education.

Also on Thursday, a seminar on the teaching of Mandarin in British schools was held in London, where Mandarin teachers, language experts, and school headteachers discussed topics such as course design, teaching tips and curriculum planning.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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