The fourth annual Schools and Universities Day took place last Friday, with students from 20 schools across England taking part and representatives from 22 universities in attendance. Similar to previous years, the event’s morning sessions saw school students participate in activities, while the university representatives engaged in discussions with school teachers and the IOE CI team. The afternoon was a time for students and universities to meet face-to-face at the university fair.
A student workshop led by Frances Weightman and Sarah Dodd of Leeds University focussed on translating through pictures, which forms part of the ‘Writing Chinese: Authors, Authority and Authorship’ project, based at the Rose East Asia Centre in the University of Leeds. The workshop involved students translating picture book ‘The Peanut Fart’ <<花生米样的屁>> by Wang Xiaoming <<王晓明>> from Chinese into English. This workshop was very popular as the students learnt a lot of new vocabulary, found the story very amusing as well as having the satisfaction of translating an entire book. Students were also encouraged to take part in the Bai Meigui Translation Competition which is a writing competition for secondary school students.
The second morning activity for students was a panel discussion with university students
from Cambridge, Goldsmiths, Oxford and Westminster. These students gave an extensive insight into what it is really like to study Chinese at university, to spend periods of time in China and how to adjust to university life as languages students. The pupils very much enjoyed this element of the day as it gave them an opportunity to ask an array of questions to students who were very close in age to them, which helped them focus on what to ask the universities in the afternoon.
While the school students were having fun learning new Chinese words and connecting with university students, teachers and university representatives were engaged in discussions, led by IOE CI Director Katharine Carruthers, on how best to support students of Chinese in the transition from school to university. The IOE CI’s Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) Coordinator, Dr. Pan Lin, and MEP Manager, Sam Gray highlighted potential areas for collaboration with universities, as well as promoting the rapid progress of MEP students which has occurred over the last year and a half. This led to a broader discussion around ways in which schools and universities can link regionally.
After lunch, the university fair began. School students got the opportunity to have conversations with a range of universities and chat further with the university students from the panel discussion. An overwhelming outcome of the fair was that the school students found it very useful to discuss with universities the different options of doing joint honours Chinese with other subjects. Feedback shows that students found information out from the fair that would have been very difficult to find out without speaking to someone directly from a university’s Chinese department.
We are very thankful to all those who attended Schools and Universities Day 2018. The event was an excellent opportunity for teachers, university representatives, students and the IOE CI to help bridge the gap between studying Chinese at school and studying Chinese university.