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Yr7 - which language choice - Mandarin or Spanish?

(9 Posts)
Madmog Sat 29-Sep-12 10:47:44

Just thinking in advance here, the top French sets at my daughter's new school will have to make the choice of doing Mandarin or Spanish as a second language. It may be the school will give advice re: choices soon, but just wondering if anyone has good reasons for choosing either of them.

By way of background, but her best/favourite subjects are English, art, music, ICT and French. She has a long way to go until work, but favours writing or something to do with art or music - a teacher at her old school mentioned she would be a great graphic designer.

ProudNeathGirl Sat 29-Sep-12 11:00:54

Spanish. Far more useful than Mandarin. Much more widely spoken and is the second language for more people too. Will be much more useful when travelling the globe. Most of Britain's trade is still done in Europe too.
It's also more like French and so easier to learn.
She'd accomplish much more in a shorter time by learning Spanish rather than Mandarin.

LeeCoakley Sat 29-Sep-12 11:05:01

Agree. Also if she goes on an exchange visit it will cost a fortune if she's doing Mandarin!

phlebas Sat 29-Sep-12 11:11:03

my dd has the same choice - Spanish or Mandarin or Russian - she's going for Spanish as it will only be an hour a week for the next two terms (& two hours of French).

vamosbebe Sat 29-Sep-12 11:21:34

To be honest, if it's just an hour a week she might as well be learning Klingon!

I'm a language teacher and imho to learn a language, if you can't live in that country (as in this situation), you need at least 5 hours per week with a lot of self-study in between. If you're not backing up what you've learnt in the classroom with reading an article on the internet, listening to Spanish/Russian/French/whatever music with lyrics, watching some dvds with subtitles etc, then it'll take you a hell of a long time to learn a language to a half-decent level.

<sorry if I've pissed on anyone's chips>

phlebas Sat 29-Sep-12 12:27:40

no I agree! I'd far rather she was spending the three hours doing French.

Himalaya Sat 29-Sep-12 12:41:06

I don't think it matters either way - as vamosbebe said she isn't going to learn much. I think schools just do this to impress the parents.

Having said that, it is much easier to get by/pick up a bit of Spanish along the way in life if you have learnt French. It is much harder to get started in Mandarin on your own.

For that reason I would go for Mandarin - it will give her a taste of learning the language and something of a culture which is much further removed from us than Spain, from a country that is likely rive the world's biggest economy for much of her working life.

She's not going to learn much language either way, bur Mandarin may make her feel like mor of a global citizen, if you see what I mean?

Copthallresident Sat 29-Sep-12 16:07:52

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, Mandarin is the first by quite a large margin. It isn't just that it is spoken in China, it is also spoken in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, the tiger economies, and of course Chinatowns around the world. It would be useful in all sorts of career choices, not just business. Chinese art is very much in vogue in the artworld for instance. I know a policewoman who has used it to get posted into a fascinating career dealing with the Chinese community in London. It is of course very useful if you want to study Chinese history, culture, art etc. and if nothing else it will get you superb service and access to amazing food in Chinese restaurants!

Learning Mandarin is a different proposition to learning Spanish, or French. No tenses, but 10,000 characters and four tones. Since your daughter is musical the tones shouldn't be a problem but there is no real alternative to rote learning the characters, you need in the hundreds for it to become viable as a written language, at least 2000 to be able to read widely . The BBC have a good introduction to the language www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese/real_chinese/ which your daughter could explore to get a feel for it. The characters do also give you a taste for the culture, for instance the character for woman has a broom wink and might also appeal to her artistic side, writing the characters with brush and ink are an art form.

There is an issue with the standard of teaching of Mandarin in schools in the UK generally, it took off as a bit of a trend ahead of the supply of good teachers, that is something you need to check out with the pupils who have taken it up in the years above. I understand that the levels you need to achieve for GCSE and A level are not that demanding. 150 -200 characters for GCSE. Universities would be impressed by a non Mandarin speaker having a GCSE, it shows that they have risen to a slightly different sort of challenge.

Madmog Sat 29-Sep-12 17:33:21

Thank you for your comments so far. My daughter will read them! Hopefully we will get some advice from the school, but if not your comments have raised a couple of points I think it's worth my daughter asking about, ie how much they actually learn in an hour a week (plus any school club, inhouse competitions and entertainment they can choose to do in a foreign language) for each language, is it enough for GCSE etc.

Just nice to feel she's choosing the one that might be most useful to her (spanish would be handy for me - she could translate on holiday lol!). further.

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