Hundreds of pupils put their Mandarin skills to the test earlier this month on the Mandarin Excellence Programme’s first ever intensive learning day.
Over 300 pupils visited the Institute of Education, and got to take part in a series of tasks specifically designed to put them through their linguistic paces. Activities included a ‘Talking Treasure Hunt’ around the campus, classroom lessons and a singing performance in Mandarin Chinese. Pupils were also given the opportunity to hear from some sixth form and university students about their experiences of studying Mandarin and spending time in China.
In addition to being the first ever intensive learning day for those participating in the Mandarin Excellence Programme, it is also the first time that the majority of the pupils on the national initiative have come together in one place.
The Mandarin Excellence Programme ultimately aims to see 5,000 pupils on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020 – with almost 400 pupils set to complete the first year of the programme this summer. Pupils on the programme study Mandarin for eight hours on average every week.
Speaking about being part of the programme, 12-year-old Chijioke Davies who is a pupil at Dartford Grammar School in Kent – one of the schools taking part in the intensive language day – said:
“I joined the Mandarin Excellence Programme because I wanted to have a bigger challenge than regular Chinese lessons. The best thing about being part of the [programme] is that I have something to be proud of and I can say that I am good at a language.
“If anyone is thinking about joining the programme, I would say that they should join because it is an amazing experience.”
Katharine Carruthers, Director of the IOE’s Confucius Institute for Schools, said:
“The UCL Institute of Education is delighted to be delivering the DfE’s Mandarin Excellence Programme. This programme provides a real boost and unique opportunity for more motivated pupils to be on track towards fluency in Mandarin – intensive learning is an important part of that. All of the pupils who attended this innovative teaching day are clearly benefitting from being part of the programme.”
Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, and is seen as important for young people in the UK to master in order for the country to remain globally competitive in the future.
Schools interested in joining the programme in September 2018 can submit an Expression of Interest form now.