Learning Chinese broadens children’s horizons, UK teachers say

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As China is a major country on the world stage, studying China and its language can broaden children’s minds and improve their career prospects, British teachers say.

“China is at the center of many developments. It will be important for our next generation of young people to understand Chinese culture and also be able to work using the Mandarin language,” said Joan Deslandes, headmaster of Kingsford Community School at East London.

She made the remarks at the awards ceremony in London’s Chinatown to the winners of the Chinese language proficiency competition – “Chinese Bridge” – for primary and secondary school students. In total, nearly 500 UK students took part in the two competitions held earlier this year online.

“But most importantly I recognize that China has a wonderful history and culture that is unknown to many young people in the UK, and I think it would broaden their minds and understanding and support their development as citizens of the world if they learned the language,” she says.

In 2000, Kingsford became the first school in Britain to introduce compulsory Mandarin lessons into its curriculum.

Around 140 students and teachers from 17 schools attended the event earlier this month. They interspersed the awards ceremony with performances including Chinese songs, traditional dances and musical instruments.

“And it was just the small number of students who won the competition, but behind them are many schools teaching Chinese, and a lot of enthusiasm for having Chinese as an option. language in this country”, explains Katharine Carruthers, director of UCL. Institute of Education Confucius Institute for Schools.

“China plays an important role in the global vision. We need to equip children with all the skills — and that includes linguistic and cultural understanding — to be able to stay connected as they grow up,” says Suzanne Haigh, Principal of the school at Kensington Wade. The London-based school is the first preparatory school in Britain to offer an immersive bilingual English-Chinese education for boys and girls aged 3-11.

“In terms of employability prospects, knowing the Chinese language and being able to communicate effectively with people from China can only benefit young people in this country,” says Deslandes.

“In our diverse world, where there are so many challenges to overcome, it is only by bringing our young people together, through learning each other’s languages ​​and cultures, that the important cooperation we need for the Each country’s future success can continue,” she adds.

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