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For many years Mandarin Chinese has been touted as the language of the future, the key to business success in the years to come. Indeed, many independent schools already teach Mandarin to GCSE and A level. There is no doubt that knowledge of this language is a huge advantage to any English-speaking individual. However, from personal experience as an ex-modern languages teacher, I have seen that Mandarin Chinese is so radically different to English that students learning it as secondary school struggle to attain fluency. One way to mitigate this problem is to familiarise your child with the language from a very young age by contracting a bilingual nanny – preferably through Wordsmith Education! Another option is to attend the new prep school opening in London which aims to educate children in a bilingual Mandarin-English environment.
The founders of Kensington Wade, the first bilingual Chinese-English school in Europe, say that they will teach the language to children as young as one, and that all will be fluent when they leave. The idea is that the students will be better prepared for working internationally in a global market, as well as broadening their cultural horizons. According to one co-founder “learning Chinese opened another world to me, enriching my life and giving me opportunities I would never otherwise have had. Now I want the next generation to have the same, only earlier”.
For many years, Mandarin has been viewed as the key to future opportunities, and the Department of Education recently launched a £10 million initiative to widen the teaching of Mandarin Chinese to UK state schools. According to Vicky Gough, schools advisor at the British Council, “With over one billion speakers of Mandarin Chinese worldwide, it is vital that more of our young people learn the language and understand something of Chinese culture to successfully work abroad or for businesses here in the UK… Learning Mandarin Chinese – or another widely spoken language – not only gives young people the advantage they need to live in a global society but will help ensure that the UK remains competitive on the world stage.”