Last week, we posted Chinese leads to good Ofsted Reports; Top tips from the Principal involved, which was the first blogpost in a three-part series about Mandarin at Melbourn Village College (MVC). Mandarin Chinese, despite being only in its second year as part of the standard school curriculum, was highlighted in MVC’s 2017 Ofsted Report five times; each time in a very positive light. Oftsed stated that through the introduction of Chinese, it considers MVC to be ‘forward-thinking in adapting the curriculum to suit the needs of the 21st Century’.
For the second blogpost of the series, we spoke to MVC’s Chinese teacher, Frank Fan about his experiences of introducing Chinese at the school and how his students are excelling in the subject…
A little bit about Mr Fan
Mr Fan was born in Xinjiang province to Shanghainese parents. He tells some highly amusing stories about his 10 day journey from his hometown to Shanghai at the age of 17. Sitting in on one of his lessons, he weaves similar funny stories about China into his teaching, which leave students listening with anticipation and laughing all the way through. Mr Fan did his teacher training at the IOE, graduating in 2016, the same year he got the job at MVC to set up Chinese language on curriculum.
Starting Mandarin Chinese at MVC
Mr Fan tells me that sometimes there is worry about children learning Mandarin, as parents know very little about the language so cannot help their children with Chinese homework. However, Mr Fan sees it from another point of view, expressing that it is time for children to have the opportunity to teach their parents something and in doing this, they gain confidence in the subject. Chinese can be a difficult language to learn, however, Mr Fan knows that these difficulties can be overcome with plenty of practice. This is why he actively encourages his students to come to his classroom to practice speaking with him in Mandarin.
Mr Fan’s Classroom
Mr Fan’s classroom is decorated with photographs of everything Chinese from modern and old photographs of Shanghai, to pictures of Chinese martial artists, Chinese cuisine and examples of his students’ excellent Chinese character writing. When entering Mr Fan’s classroom, known to the students as the ‘Great Wall of China’, it is a rule that they must speak Chinese. As a teacher, he enjoys creating an environment where the students are not afraid to interact with him and each other in Mandarin.
MEP at MVC
Mr Fan explains that the Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) has allowed students to gain a deeper knowledge of Chinese language and culture, as they are given the time to go much further with their learning. Mr Fan says his MEP students are progressing very fast and this is certainly reflected in the excellent Chinese character writing compositions which decorate the classroom walls. All of his students recognise that Mandarin is a difficult language and when they master it they feel a real sense of achievement in themselves and their abilities.
Future of Mandarin at MVC
Mr Fan is very positive about the future of Mandarin at MVC and believes that his students will do very well compared to most Mandarin school learners in the UK. While watching Mr Fan’s lesson, it is easy to see why he is so positive, as his students are lively and interested in his class, as well as having excellent pronunciation and comprehension.
Next week we will post the final part of the Mandarin Chinese at MVC blogpost series, which will include students’ perspectives.
To read the full IOE CI Report of the Mandarin at Melbourn Village College, please click here.