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“Be brave” and sign up for a Mandarin class this summer

25 May 2021

Chinese lesson in classroom at Cardiff University

People take language courses for a variety of reasons: Perhaps they need it for work purposes, are going on holiday, or maybe they simply have an interest in the culture or want to meet like-minded people.

Similarly, Mandarin learners have all kinds of rationale when signing up for Continuing and Professional Education (CPE) courses. For example, we have had students who want to continue with the basics they have picked up - be that in education, from friends or visiting China; people planning to take the HSK exams; and those who would just like to speak to friends (and even their three godchildren) in their native tongue. One learner even wanted to develop on what she had learned whilst working in a Chinese restaurant!

This year, a third of graduates from our Mandarin for Teachers’ courses progressed onto CPE. Coming from Primary and Secondary schools, they wanted to develop their Chinese language skills so they could help their students: “I wanted to improve my Chinese in order to be able to teach basic Mandarin to my MFL KS3 pupils, particularly in the absence of face-to-face Confucius Classroom teaching” says Lisa Williams from Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni, a Welsh-medium school in the Rhymney Valley.

Lisa found her CPE course to be a comprehensive combination of the four skills: writing, reading, speaking and listening; along with grammar and culture. She says: “We learnt about useful everyday topics which would come in handy when visiting China in the future, or for just conversing with Chinese people in the UK. I found the grammar really interesting and I enjoyed participating in the role plays.” Lisa felt that by taking the course, confidence in her Mandarin teaching also developed, having a knock-on effect on her pupils’ enthusiasm towards the language as well.

Schoolteacher with Confucius Institute tutors
Lisa Willliams from Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni with Confucius tutors Yonghui He & Fan Qu (left to right)

Clare Pocock from Maes Y Coed Primary School in Pontypridd was another teacher who found studying Mandarin at the University beneficial to her pupils. She was able to use even the basics she had learned to help them practice: “As I knew numbers and months, I could ask my pupils questions about their ages and birthdays and could understand the answers! As a teacher, it [taking a course in Mandarin] gives you the confidence to deliver the lesson yourself” she says.

Lauren Davies from Abercerdin Primary School in Porth has just completed the Beginners Part II CPE course, and is particularly enthusiastic about learning Mandarin. She urges anyone who is interested in taking the classes but is worried it may be too hard to be brave and sign up. She says: “Mandarin is a very logical language - the weekdays for example are just ‘day one’ for Monday, ‘day two’ for Tuesday and so on – and it’s the same with the months too.”

“I know people get concerned about the tones in Mandarin, but once you’ve learned them it’s quite easy - they never change, and you’ll be able to pronounce everything! Don’t panic - Chinese is really not as difficult as it appears, and joining a class means you have other people in the same boat as you.”

If you would like to join an intensive language course in Mandarin Chinese in June/July, sign up on the Cardiff University website. The CPE evening part-time courses for adults will be starting again in September, and you can find more details later in the summer.

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