compulsory Chinese in Junior School

(43 Posts)
henrietta1199 Sat 23-Jun-18 11:03:10

What do you think about it?
Several very well regarded schools like SHHS, Latymer, Bute, Forest, St.Chistopher offer Chinese as a compulsory subject in Junior school until age 11. I doubt the usefulness of it. My 6 yo daughter is very academic and also bilingual (english-russian). We are investing a lot of efforts into academic Russian.(we attend Russian school on Saturdays, read Russian books, write etc.) Adding extra very hard foreign language does not seem to be a good investment of time and efforts. We are happy with French and/or Spanish.
Would you dismiss schools with compulsory Chinese? I found that at Senior school (11+) none of the famous well regarded schools have Chinese as compulsory.

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Sat 23-Jun-18 16:44:55

I think that lots of senior schools still don’t offer Mandarin. If the senior schools you want do French, I rather agree that it’s best to do French as every senior school will offer it. However, I can assure you a decent linguist can pick French up perfectly well at 11 if they haven’t done it before but I would be less confident at 13.

I think Mandarin is the latest fashionable language to learn but I think for younger children, French is very worthwhile as France is handy to visit! I understand 350 million Chinese are learning English so I’m not sure how useful it is for a young English/Russian child to learn Mandarin unless you really want to do it.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 23-Jun-18 18:52:58

My DD started French in reception and mandarin in year1 and has done both all the way now to the end of year 9. She has far, far greater vocabulary and better spoken and listening mandarin than she has French. She is good at Maths and very musical and due the symbols and importance of intonation in mandarin it is easier than Latin languages for children such as DD.
She had chosen French for GCSE as she is dyslexic and she just can not accurately write the symbols fast enough where as for French she has access arrangements to use a laptop at GCSE.
If I had my time again would I choose mandarin absolutely.

ScattyCharly Sat 23-Jun-18 19:04:05

I have to say that I think offering mandarin to 6/7/8yos is pretty gimmicky. My kids have not done this, but I have a friend whose son did Mandarin for a year. He knew virtually nothing at the end of the year. If she attended a couple of mandarin lessons a week at school, I don't think that would really produce any homework to speak of? It would just be more of a fun activity, rather than something interfering with the russian learning, which is presumably totally out of school and with you or your dh?

ThisIsNotARealAvo Sat 23-Jun-18 19:16:48

My kids do mandarin at school, everyone from year 2 up does it. I don't think any language is more useful than any other when you compare it to English. And they don't learn a huge amount anyway, even if it was French they'd not be able to speak French in France as normal conversation would be far too difficult. They offer mandarin at some of the local secondary schools.

I speak English and French and never use French ever unless I really want to. So it really doesn't matter what they do at primary school.

Vietnammark Sat 23-Jun-18 20:26:06

My son’s Pre prep “teaches” Mandarin and French from kindergarten. Really until Year 4 one can not with all honestly call this teaching, but is more “introducing” as they teach a cross cultural curriculum. I.E. when it is international week they teach the names of countries in French and Mandarin, and do not follow a structured curriculum for these languages.

If I had to choose one of these two languages for my son to learn at such an early age it would definitely be Mandarin rather than French.

My primary reasons for this would be:

Mandarin has dead simple grammar and French does not
Mandarin tones are vitally important and it is realitively easy for younger children to pick these up somewhat effortlessly

My now 10 year old son is doing very well in both of these languages, but that is probably as much to do with my input as that of the school.

SnookieSnooks Sat 23-Jun-18 20:46:35

Wow! What an amazing opportunity to learn Mandarin. I can’t really understand the comments along the lines of ‘it’s a waste of time’. Even just mastering a few words is highly worthwhile. Almost everything that is sold in he shops in this country is made in China and we’ll stand a better chance of getting a slice of the business if we can work more easily with the Chinese.

The reverse of this discussion would never happen in China - the Chinese would always think it’s worth learning English.


expat96 Mon 25-Jun-18 13:55:29

I understand 350 million Chinese are learning English so I’m not sure how useful it is for a young English/Russian child to learn Mandarin unless you really want to do it.

According to Eurostat, 99.9% of French secondary school students were learning English so I’m not sure how useful it is for a young English/Russian child to learn Mandarin French unless you really want to do it.

henrietta1199 Mon 25-Jun-18 14:22:46

Studying French/Spanish requies substantially less efforts than Chinese. With the same amount of efforts invested into a common european language you would get a different result.

OP’s posts: |
Lonecatwithkitten Mon 25-Jun-18 14:29:32

But not for everyone Herietta my example same effort French and Mandarin - higher level of Mandarin achieved. If DD could use a lap top at GCSE for Mandarin that would be the one she is studying.

Blessthekids Mon 25-Jun-18 14:33:00

It’s a hard language so I think it’s a great thing for European kids to do, the world is a big place and regardless of whether they pick it up or not, they need to know that the World does not revolve around Western nations anymore. Most schools I know teach Mandarin, they can always drop it at GCSE, as none say it’s compulsory at that level. Struggling at a subject is as much a learning experience as excelling at one.

drspouse Mon 25-Jun-18 14:33:36

A small state school near us does Mandarin as their primary school language. Some of the other schools do French and have a France trip but so many of the parents at this school couldn't afford that, they decided to offer something unusual. The advantages will be the same as any other foreign language in primary school.

BubblesBuddy Mon 25-Jun-18 15:58:56

And how many people are there in France, expat? Let me guess - a lot less than 350
Million Chinese. It’s akways English that most other cultures want to learn for a second language. For very obvious reasons. We have the pick of numerous languages. Mandarin is no more worthy than others. If your culture is partially or wholly Chinese, then great. However most of the grammar schools around me don’t offer it. They all, however, offer French.

Vietnammark Mon 25-Jun-18 20:26:26

The British Council report is pretty comprehensive and gives opinions on which are the most appropriate language s for Brits to learn:

henrietta1199 Tue 26-Jun-18 07:44:22

Everybody who argues for Chinese seems to presume that 1-2 lessons of Chinese a week for 2-3 years would enable a child to learn Chinese to a reasonable academic or even business(!) level. Obviously that's not going to happen.

OP’s posts: |
expat96 Tue 26-Jun-18 11:48:31

BubblesBuddy - I wasn't commenting on your conclusion. I was commenting the logic by which you reached your conclusion. Which I still don't understand.

And how many people are there in France, expat? Let me guess - a lot less than 350 Million Chinese.


expat96 Tue 26-Jun-18 11:52:03

henrietta1199 - Are you suggesting that 1-2 lessons of Chinese French a week for 2-3 years would enable a child to learn Chinese French to a reasonable academic or even business(!) level.

expat96 Tue 26-Jun-18 12:09:42

DD theoretically learned two foreign languages in primary. As far as I could tell, she spent 30 minutes a week for a 2-3 years on each one (they only taught one in any given year). And 30 minutes is overstating the amount of time they spent because foreign language was the first thing sacrificed when they needed time for play rehearsals, etc.

I'm afraid that she wasn't talented enough in languages to become fluent, or even conversant, in either one, though she did learn something about the culture. She's going to end up doing both again in senior school (one mandatory, one as our option), starting from the beginning with all the other girls. So my experience is that it doesn't really matter all that much which language(s) a primary tries to teach.

As a counter to those who prefer French at primary because French will be compulsory at your local secondaries, what's wrong with another language at primary? Your child will then have some exposure to a third culture and (a bit of) language in addition to learning French more thoroughly at secondary.

Mominatrix Tue 26-Jun-18 12:14:09

Well, speaking from experience of Latymer, the teaching of Mandarin is very gentle and certainly far from the vigour my other son had to learn French at this school. Additionally, as it alternates terms with Spanish, the amount learned of the language is virtually superficial at best.

TeenTimesTwo Tue 26-Jun-18 12:14:47

Possibly the schools also see indirect benefits from learning Mandarin? e.g. maybe it develops part of the brain not developed by French/Spanish? Or doing something 'hard' develops resilience? Or puts all children on an even playing field - not advantaging children who go to France/Spain on holiday or who had au pairs from there?

Mominatrix Tue 26-Jun-18 12:29:36

That was not the way it was explained to us Teen - the decision was made to not teach French as it was a dying language and the languages of the future are Mandarin and Spanish. Nothing to do with brain pathways or evening playing fields.

Vietnammark Tue 26-Jun-18 18:54:22

French is definitely not a dying language and just a couple of years ago there was an thought that by the year 2050 French might be the most spoken language in the world. I believe this projection mainly came from the number of children that some people in Sub-Saharan Africa were having and extrapolating.

For arguments over which languages will be important, the British Council report is excellent.

BubblesBuddy Tue 26-Jun-18 19:56:31

My argument was simply that there are more learning English in China than are learning English in France. Therefore our interface with Chinese people who speak English in business won’t be a massive issue. That said, I believe we don’t take MFL seriously and far too often on MN and in schools, children give up. Even those who are said to be bright.

I note that French is equally worthy to Mandarin. There is a reason why schools with lots of Chinese people around might be able to teach Mandarin and far flung schools find it more difficult. It’s teacher availability.

Mominatrix Tue 26-Jun-18 20:19:31

Vietnam, I don't disagree - this was the explanation by the school.

BadCarrot Tue 26-Jun-18 20:30:42

DD did mandarin at junior school and then GCSE at secondary school - both State schools. She really enjoyed it and did two trips to China. Has just graduated in a scientific subject and all employers have been interested in this aspect of her education. Helps to form a "well rounded" individual.

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