Schools offering Chinese Mandarin

(80 Posts)
iloveiphone5 Sun 28-Oct-12 10:14:49

Would love to hear from anyone who knows of any schools (private or state, although that cld be rare) that offer Chinese Manadrin lessons as a core MFL subject or failing that, as extra curriculaum item? Preferably in the Herts, Cambs or Bucks regions or north London. With the economy in China / Asia booming ( and expected to continue to boom) and our own struggling economy in the EU, I am surprised that not more schools are offering Chinese. I really fail to see French or Latin or Greek being more important than Chinese for global business in the future. Why they are still on the curriculum i do not know. Controversial maybe - what do others think?

badgerhead Mon 29-Oct-12 15:51:17

There is a prep school locally who offer it plus the local girls secondary school offer to one form per year, this is in West Sussex though.

breadandbutterfly Mon 29-Oct-12 19:49:04

Watford Grammar for Girls in Herts (state) offers it as a second language from year 8 (after French or German in year 7). Quite popular apparently. Also do trips to China in year 8.

iloveiphone5 Tue 30-Oct-12 13:14:29

Thanks all for taking the time and effort to respond! Some very good points made that I had not considered. I googled more and read that there were 500 schools offering Mandarin but no list so except for going through schools' websites, this is going to be along trial and error process! And so far, no luck in finding a school near my region, except for oundle which is $$$$ and super selective, I heard....

Tricccky Tue 30-Oct-12 22:58:47

Beware of choosing a school based on mandarin teaching. Several reasons:
- Mandarin seems to be the Chinese language of choice for teaching - it has the most speakers of any language, but don't imagine this makes it vital for doing business... Cantonese is also very widely spoken, particularly in Hong Kong and Southern China which have been major business hubs.
- From a cultural perspective, while the Chinese have historically not been all that great at learning English this is beginning to change to a MASSIVE degree. And Chinese people don't like losing 'face' in the way that they do when you speak to them in 'Chinese' (especially pigeon-versions of Chinese). They will always prefer to speak to you in English, not vice versa.
- Mandarin/Cantonese are incredibly difficult languages to learn proficiently for speakers of English.
- That's not to say that learning the language is a brilliant thing for your child to do. Of course it is and should be encouraged. However, the level to which a child will likely learn at school is unlikely to get them very far. I wouldn't choose a school on the basis of it. To be honest, in an international culture, Spanish may well serve them better. At least they'd be able to speak it on their holidays (far less likely if they learn Mandarin, unless you're regularly going to be nipping over to Beijing in half term).

Anyway, to answer your question, I know several primary schools near where I am (including state options which most middle class parents turn their noses up at) are introducing mandarin classes. My children therefore will almost certainly be learning it. I'd rather they were doing Spanish, but I can't make a choice based on this unfortunately.

Tricccky Tue 30-Oct-12 23:03:29

p.s. someone commented above about a smallamount being impressive in a business context. I think this is absolutely right. However, in my experience of travelling to China several times on business over the last few years I have always had amazing experiences and incredible gratitude presented towards me for the literally 10 or 12 (fumbled) words/phrases I have been able to use. Personally, I think 4 or 5 years of language teaching at school could be more fruitfully spent on a latinate language - possibly more interesting for the child and therefore more likely to stick at it. Anyway, your choice and I do understand and respect the motivation behind your question. It's also amazing to learn about the culture behind the language, which is fascinating.

muminlondon Tue 30-Oct-12 23:07:04

They offer it in our local comp as a second or third language. I think they have a native speaker. At least three other state comps in the area offer it as an extra-curricular activity.

But very interested in Tricccky's post. I question the value of learning only a smattering of a language if the motivation is for business rather than cultural/travel purposes. But as a second or third language, it would be fun.

wohmum Tue 30-Oct-12 23:28:29

My Ds does Mandarin at a state school in Northwood. It is offered as a core subject up to GCSE.
Enjoying it and doing well, but I understand there is a massive difference in results across the board between those kids with a Chinese heritage and those without (understandably!)

Hamishbear Wed 31-Oct-12 07:18:36

Asian Century

Things are going to radically change in our children's lifetimes. Mandarin is definitely worth considering. A great foundation which they may build upon later.

Tricccky Wed 31-Oct-12 23:48:47

I agree with Gillard's comments in the article linked to - but worth remembering that Australia has always had much closer
Links to Asia and i believe that Japanese - for example -
was very commonly taught there over recent decades. Regardless of the Asia Century point though English is still the established language of business and I simply don't believe this will change In our lifetimes. The major reason for this IMVHO is that already a great many university courses in China, India are taught today in English. In India, many high schools teach in English, in fact even at primary school it is quite
common. Given the proliferation of dialects in India (plus the
Colonial history I guess) this isn't altogether surprising. Some of my Indian colleagues when on business in the uk have ha to respond very di

Mulling it over some more I do think learning 'Chinese' as second or third foreign language is excellent but maintain that a language you have a likelihood of being able to show off with on your holidays would be more likely to hook a child in for the long term than one that you never get to use on location.

Tricccky Wed 31-Oct-12 23:51:53

Eek sorry my second para got truncated thanks to iPhone. Was jus tryin to say that I know Indians who have had the quality of their English complimented when they have travelled to the UK- and have half embarrassingly then had to point out that they were brought up speaking English.

Long winded way of saying that I actually think there is a high likelihood of the Chinese and Indians actually strengthening the global importance of English.

givemeaclue Thu 01-Nov-12 10:27:20

Most international business in China I, conducted in English -is seen as the language of business. Think this is why basic mandarin is not as popular as people think it should be. Go addition many different dialects/languages are spoken in China and mandarin I, of limited use in many areas.

LIZS Thu 01-Nov-12 10:38:37

Whitgift in Croydon does. I think you may find that some schools ostensibly offering it may have a core group of native speakers and it may not be so readily available as a second language. Agree it isn't really the language of business though.

Hamishbear Thu 01-Nov-12 12:20:41

English is likely to remain the language of business but Mandarin is likely to become the second in time - and possibly eventually take over from English. English on the internet is in decline, soon it not the widest language used.

The United States and the west is in terminal decline. This decline will adversely affect the position of English. The global use of a language doesn't exist in a vacuum it's linked to the power and reach of the nation state concerned. In the middle ages no one would have believed Latin would cease to be the language of education, in the eighteenth century it would be unthinkable that any language but French would be the norm for polite society.

In 2011 the Economist estimated that the Chinese economy would overtake the United States in 2018. More conservative estimates put the year at 2027.

In South Korea and Thailand all schools now offer Mandarin. It's being spoken and taught more widely in Hong Kong than ever before. It's the second most widely taught language in Japan after English. In 2010 India made a decision that it should be rolled out in all Indian secondary schools.

It's a differentiator. Those I know who conduct business who speak only a little Mandarin better build relationships with Chinese colleagues and are highly respected.

The balance of power is shifting East and I think a knowledge of Mandarin, even a basic one may help our children more than we know. The world will be a very different one in a relatively short period of time.

Munashe Thu 01-Nov-12 13:15:32

The Chinese are preferring their own local people who are proficient in both languages and have been educated at elite universities across the globe. Days of huge payouts to expats are gone unless you are highly skilled and really sought after. Even then you don't need to speak Mandarian.

Look at some elite school here (esp boarding schools) in England and see the rising number of the Chinese who speak fluent English and Mandarian and you'll see that China is grooming its own talent. Its an interesting language to learn but I wouldn't choose a school based on that. You can get a good tutor round to your house who can even do a better job that school if you really want your DC to learn Mandarian.

Hamishbear Thu 01-Nov-12 13:53:51

You make a good point about the Chinese learning English but I think we need to look more broadly. A businessman or woman with a knowledge of Mandarin and awareness and respect for Chinese culture is received far more favourably than one who is insular and arrogant.

I know some who think that if you are a smart parent you should be teaching your child Mandarin above anything else such is the way the world will change in their lifetimes. It may be the greatest gift you can give your child, they say. Many Chinese are learning English but comparatively few westerners are learning Mandarin. I think it's surprising how many don't seem to realise that China is going to economically dominate and soon - the dollar is going to eventually be replaced by the renminbi as the world's reserve currency (probably in less than 20 years). This will have far reaching consequences. A Chinese world order is imminent and it's surprising so many seem to be in denial.

Copthallresident Thu 01-Nov-12 22:43:02

keeping lid on annoyance at all the stereotypes If your DC is inspired to learn Mandarin then there are, as with everything, problems and opportunities.

Problems - It is true that the standard of Mandarin teaching in some schools leaves something to be desired, the demand has outstripped the supply of good teachers. I know some schools do not teach Mandarin because they cannot find teachers of sufficient calibre, so beware of schools adding it to the curriculum because it is trendy without ensuring they can deliver a good standard of teaching. Look at GCSE results, www.slideshare.net/petegoodman/gcse-mandarin-discussion-day-sevenoaks-school-may-11 is a good overview of what is required at GCSE. For a motivated pupil with the right learning skills learning the 150 characters to get an A* should not be hugely demanding.

It is a different language to learn, but only especially difficult if you don't have a good ear / memory. It has four tones and written characters that you have little choice but to rote learn (but then I have neither and I have managed) www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese/real_chinese/ will give your DC a taste to see whether they feel they have the ear and memory for the challenge to be enjoyable.

Opportunities - You don't just learn a language, the characters provide an insight into the culture in a way the European alphabet does not and that can give you an advantage not just in business but if your DC wants to go on to study that culture. Chinese Studies degrees (Oxbridge, SOAS, Nottingham especially) are extremely popular and have a very high employment rate.

Aiyah! to all the rubbish above about doing business in China. Firstly whilst there are many dialects, business with any sort of national / international context is unlikely to be done in any language but Mandarin. It is the official language of China, the characters are in any case in common and Cantonese speakers can understand Mandarin speakers, even the old grannies in local markets, though they may they may spit at your shadow as you walk away for speaking like a mainlander ! Secondly Mandarin and a knowledge of Chinese culture will make doing business in China and with Chinese people not just more effective but more fun too. The Chinese understand that being bilingual both lingusitically and culturally is important to effective business THAT is why they send their children west for their education (that and the fact that they recognise the weaknesses of the Chinese rote learning approach to education). The woeful ignorance of Chinese culture, let alone language, and the clinging to tired old stereotypes is what holds UKPLC back when doing business with China, even our PM has embarassingly manifested that. It has made us into a bit of a joke.

As to not having the incentive of using the language on family holidays, every High Street has restaurant that it can be used in! and it will make your DC into one of their most valued customers, and get you brilliant service and food!!! Amongst the twenty somethings I know most have travelled to China and many have worked there too. It is already somewhere that offers opportunity where Britain is offering them none.

Hamishbear Thu 01-Nov-12 23:01:14

Aiyah! Indeed smile - great points, Copthall.

I know a few 20 something's having a ball in Shanghai at the moment, working in schools.

Hamishbear Thu 01-Nov-12 23:02:10

Sorry I mean somethings - excuse random apostrophe.

ZZZenAgain Fri 02-Nov-12 10:54:36

can I ask all you knowledgable people how important you think other Asian languages such as Japanese and Korean may become in this "Asian century" spoken of on the thread? Do you think that Mandarin will be the new lingua franca generally in Asia (or maybe it is already, I don't know)?

Maybe our govt. has to look at changing primary language instruction, probably it won't work out for our dc but for our grandchildren. Latin was the mark of educated people for a long time and has value in that it opens the door to knowledge and mastery of about our own and any other European language's structure. It also provides you with a vehicle for learning about classical antiquity from which an understanding of own traditions and culture largely stems. French was the language of diplomacy, used for travel and it was the done thing for aristocratic people to be able to converse in French, it has a nice sound, attractive culture, expanse and depth of literature. So I can understand why traditionally dc in the UK have to learn these languages but perhaps really now we can drop French as first foreign language. It doesn't make much sense in today's world IMO.

Hamishbear Fri 02-Nov-12 13:04:21

See my comments up thread on Chinese economy & language.

ZZZenAgain Fri 02-Nov-12 20:32:02

I've read the thread and your posts Hamish. It is an interesting thread , sorry OP don't want to hijack. Just wanted to ask what people think of the relative importance of other Asian languages in this "Asian century" or this a "Chinese century"?

I am not entirely convinced that this will be the case, I have read quite a bit to the contrary actually, so although I think Mandarin is a valuable language to learn and worth learning not just for economic reasons, I am not as convinced as some posters on the thread sound that the future belongs to this language. I would say if business is being conducted in English through-out Asia these days, it is not primarily as business of commerce that Mandarin knowledge is important. If it as people have said, more about being able to communicate in some basic way and show a knowledge of and interest in the the country you are dealing with (China). Surely in the exact same way, similar knowledge of other Asian languages is important too. Take Japan and Korea for instance, I would have thought knowing something of these languages and of the cultural background in Japan and Korea for instance would be as valuable as Mandarin. Of course the populations are smaller, there is that.

ZZZenAgain Fri 02-Nov-12 20:32:57

sorry business of commerce is meant to read language of commerce. No idea what happened there.

Hamishbear Sat 03-Nov-12 09:50:11

The reason that English is the lingua franca is largely because of the appeal and power of the US. English is not impregnable as the lingua franca & it's entirely possible that Mandarin will eclipse it in time - as impossible as many believe this to be.

It's interesting to note the rise of the status and importance of Mandarin in NE Asia - it's being promoted widely in Japan, Korea and Vietnam and of course many of these languages share elements in common with Mandarin anyway. Thais, Indonesians, Malaysians, Japanese and Koreans all want to speak Mandarin. China is promoting Confucius institutions globally to encourage Mandarin. Singapore has attached increasing status to Mandarin - many attend classes outside school even when it's the main language spoken at home. Within 50 years some commentators think that Mandarin will become the major second language in N.E. Asia (Japan, Korea, Vietnam). In 2006 there were approximately 1025 million speakers of Mandarin globally. There were approximately 328 million speakers of English. Mandarin has been around for 3 thousand years too.

As the US global position continues to weaken so the importance of Mandarin continues to widen and strengthen. Countries will increasingly seek to ally themselves with the powerhouse, China, rather than a weakening Europe/US with an ageing infrastructure. Increasingly Chinese culture will perhaps begin to be seen as superior, an exemplar of modernity (as the Jetsons rather than the Flintstones as I heard today smile ) their ancient civilisation, history etc important - such was the the case with Britain 1850-1914 and the USA from 1945 until now. Of course China has a long way to go and it won't always be plain sailing there's tremendous evidence to say that the die has been cast.

So to try to answer your question ZZZenAgain whilst it would be polite to know speak the language when doing business in Japan and Korea etc if you are going to invest the time and the resources it makes more sense to learn Mandarin. It's probably too late for us but anyone with a very young child now who tries to encourage its fluency in Mandarin could be providing it with enormous advantages for all sorts of reasons. Depending on where you live not always so easy to do I realise. I hear it's all a trend, a gimmick, wasn't Japanese in fashion some time back et? But I'd argue to think in this way is to misunderstand the bigger picture. By 2015 some say the Renminbi will be the second most important trading currency. In 2006 China invested $1.3 billion in Europe in 2011 investments in Spanish companies business holdings, Hungarian chemical companies, and a large Norwegian silicon industry individually totaled that much.

Many commentators seem to think it's all but inevitable that Bejing will become the global capital of the world in time and Shanghai take over from New York as the main financial district. These changes may well begin to happen in our children's lifetimes and many don't seem to think them possible.

ZZZenAgain Sat 03-Nov-12 12:16:51

that's a very interesting post, thanks Hamish. I wish now I could remember where I read all the articles which stated that although China will become a focal point in world finance in our lifetime, that it is only likely to be for a short duration. I really cannot remember the arguments for this now since I suppose it wasn't something that concerned me much. Maybe I can find something if I have a google.

I remember various fads for languages in my lifetime, all of which were supposed to be important to learn because of the financial situation: Japanese, Spanish, Arabic and now Mandarin so maybe some scepticism is understandable.

From what you say though, it seems sensible to drop French as primary school subject and start preparing programmes, material and teachers to adequately teach Mandarin in the not too distant future. It will take a while to set it all up. I think we would need to recruit native speakers and train them in the UK which would take time and do it via immersion in bilingual schools if we were really serious about it. Out of that generation of school children, we might have enough people able to train to teach Mandarin themselves but they would need to be sent to China for a couple of years. It is all more expensive than just continuing with French. A lot more expensive I'd imagine. Perhaps French could be second foreign language at secondary for those dc since I think the cultural attachment to the French language is still very strong in the UK.

SoupDragon Sat 03-Nov-12 12:24:16

DSs school does - Private but South London/Surrey borders.

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