Cardiff primary school pupils have been sitting alongside new classmates at a Chongqing School for classes of Chinese language and culture.
The trip to China was arranged for the Cardiff pupils as part of the Wales China School Project, run by Cardiff University’s Confucius Institute. In total 15 participants including children from Lansdowne Primary School and from the nearby Welsh Medium School Ysgol Pencae travelled to China.
The Confucius Institute’s project has been developing Chinese language and culture programmes in schools across Wales for the past five years. Lansdowne Primary School has been a pioneer having established additional classes every week. The school was the first in Wales to submit children for the YCT Official Chinese Language Proficiency test in 2011. Some of the successful pupils were among those travelling on the 12 Day Immersion trip to China.
The trip involved seven days in Xiamen (twinned with Cardiff) where the children participated in an intensive language immersion course held at Xiamen University’s Overseas College. This was then followed by a five day excursion to Chongqing where the children took part in classes at Zhong Silo Elementary School.
Lansdowne headteacher Richard Edwards, who was on the visit, said: “This has been a superb opportunity for all the children. Learning Chinese at Lansdowne has been an amazing experience for everyone involved and the immersion trip to China has enabled the children to gain a valuable insight into many different aspects of China. It has also proved to enhance our longstanding link with Zhong Silo Elementary School.”
Pupils from Ysgol Pencae had already completed a Chinese Cultural Awareness course at Cardiff University in 2011 and they regularly run China weeks at the school. Headteacher Richard Thomas said: “This trip was an important opportunity for both our children and for our school and we were able to establish new links with local schools in China that we hope to build on in years to come. This has proved to be an important opportunity for exploring how Chinese language and culture can be learnt alongside a Welsh medium context.”
Cardiff Confucius Institute’s Manager Scott Andrews led the expedition and hopes to see this as the start of many future schools-based trips to China. He said: “This trip has been the culmination of nearly five years of commitment to Chinese language learning across Wales and has been made possible with the support of British Council Wales and Cilt Cymru. It has demonstrated the significance that immersion learning can play as part of the overall commitment to language learning for children in Wales and I look forward to seeing future immersion trips developing through the Wales China Schools Project in due course.”
There are over 350 Chinese language courses delivered in schools across Wales each year supported by two Confucius Institutes and five Confucius Classrooms.