Mandarin most popular language at primary

  • 12/02/2015

For the first time, Mandarin is set to overtake Spanish and French, as the most popular foreign language taught in primary schools.

More than a hundred Chinese government-funded teachers will spend this year giving lessons at 240 primary schools.

Chen Chunlin will spend every Tuesday teaching mandarin at Kelburn Normal School. It's one of four schools she's been appointed to.

Chen and other Mandarin language assistants spent the day being introduced to New Zealand's education system and Ms Chunlin says she was impressed by the atmosphere.

"I was impressed a lot.  The whole class environment is kind of relaxed, totally different from Chinese class."

Five years ago 8000 primary pupils studied China's official language, last year it was more than 24,000.

Last year French was the most popular foreign language, followed by Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and German.

The Mandarin programme is funded mainly by the Chinese government, so schools don't pay for the teachers.

Tony Browne from the New Zealand China Council says it's all about making China better known on a world scale.

"It is part of what's often termed soft power, it is making China better known internationally."

Principal Andrew Mcfarlane says you can learn a language, but it doesn't come alive until you're with a native speaker.

"It's authentic; we actually have rich experiences that they're giving to our children."

Mandarin's also the fastest growing foreign language at secondary schools, though the numbers are still small. 

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source: newshub archive