Chinese Language Learning Broadens Children’s Horizon, Say British Teachers

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Chinese Language Learning Broadens Children’s Horizon, Say British Teachers

November 01
10:16 2022

As China is a major country on the global stage, to study China and its language can broaden children’s minds and improve their career prospects, British teachers told Xinhua on Friday.

“China is at the center of many developments. It’s going to be important for our next generation of young people to understand China’s culture and to also be able to work in the Mandarin language,” said Joan Deslandes, head teacher of Kingsford Community School in east London.

She made the remarks at the prize-giving ceremony at London’s Chinatown for the winners of the Chinese proficiency competition — “Chinese Bridge” — for primary- and secondary-level students. Altogether, nearly 500 British students participated in the two competitions held earlier this year online.

“But more important is that I recognize that China has a wonderful history and culture that is unknown to many of the young people in the UK and I felt it would be broadening their minds and broadening their understanding and supporting their development as global citizens if they were to learn the language,” she said.

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

Around 140 students and teachers from 17 schools were present at Friday’s event. They interspersed the prize-giving ceremony with performances including Chinese songs, Chinese traditional dances and Chinese musical instruments.

“And those were just only a small number of them who won the competition, but behind that there are very many schools teaching Chinese, and a lot of enthusiasm about having Chinese as a language option in this country,” said Katharine Carruthers, director of the UCL Institute of Education Confucius Institute for Schools.

“China is playing an important part in the whole world global vision. We need to equip the children with all the skills and that involves language and cultural understanding, to be able to stay connected as they grow up,” said Suzanne Haigh, head teacher at Kensington Wade. The London-based school is the first prep school in Britain to offer a bilingual immersive English-Chinese education for boys and girls from ages 3 to 11.

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

“In our diverse world where there are so many challenges that have to be faced, it’s only through bringing our young people together, through learning each of those languages, learning about each other’s culture that the important cooperation that we need between all our nations for the future success of every country on this globe can continue,” she added.

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