Confucius Institute brings world’s most spoken language to Wales

18 November 2016

Confucius Institute - group shot

The global aspirations of young people in Wales are being boosted by a teacher training scheme run by Cardiff University’s Confucius Institute.

Primary and secondary school teachers from across the country, gathered in Cardiff this month for a residential Mandarin Immersion course designed to equip teachers with the skills needed to teach the world’s most spoken language.

Facilitated by Cardiff’s Confucius Institute which promotes Chinese language and culture in Wales, the free residential course took place in the Copthorne Hotel, Cardiff and is the fifth of its kind.

Mandarin is spoken by over 900 million people worldwide and is the second most used language on the internet after English. The British Council has identified it as the most important language for young people to learn in order to remain “globally competitive in the future”. Consequently, the Confucius Institute has worked with Welsh Government to promote the idea of teaching Mandarin in Welsh schools, empowering teachers to encourage their pupils to think beyond their immediate environment when choosing subjects at GCSE.

Welsh Government launched their Global Futures scheme in 2015 to improve and promote modern foreign languages in Wales with training such as this fitting into their objective to build capacity and support for the professional development of the education workforce.

Keri Bosley, Director of Modern Foreign Languages at Crickhowell High School, Powys attended the course to fulfil her aim of teaching Mandarin in future at her school. She said: “As well as teaching three languages in all key stages, I have leadership responsibility for global learning and the international dimension. Over the past four years, there has been a steady growth of Mandarin and Chinese Studies and as a school we are fully committed to all pupils regardless of ability having this wonderful language learning opportunity. This course surpassed my expectations. The method of delivery was excellent and the learning materials were interesting and challenging.”

Kay O’Hanlon, Headteacher at Our Lady’s RC primary school, Mountain Ash was equally as positive about her experience saying: “The course was fantastic and useful on so many levels. From knowing virtually no Mandarin to being able to hold a basic conversation is amazing in 3 days. The luxury of being away from the day to day business of school enables you to focus and meeting fellow colleagues at various stages of Chinese culture and Mandarin teaching in their schools is supportive and inspiring.”

Rachel Williams, Wales China schools project manager at the Confucius Institute said: “This is the fifth year that we have run the immersion course and it's great to see more teachers attending each year. This reflects the growing recognition of Mandarin as an important global language and the need to ensure our pupils in Wales are equipped to become global citizens in the future. The nature of the course meant that the teachers had a good grasp of basic Mandarin by the end of the three days and they all felt ready to take their newly acquired language skills back to their classrooms.”

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