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IOE Blog


Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society


More British children are learning Mandarin Chinese – but an increase in qualified teachers is urgently needed

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 11 February 2019

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Mandarin Chinese: coming to a school near you soon?

Katharine Carruthers.
Mandarin Chinese is seen as being of increasing strategic importance, and in recent years there’s been a growing number of students taking up the language in schools across the UK.
There were more than 3,500 GCSE entries for Mandarin Chinese in 2018. But it’s not just China’s global dominance that makes Mandarin an appealing alternative to learning a European language. For students, it’s exciting and (more…)

How to teach Chinese? Is England's autonomous school system limiting innovation?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 23 October 2015

Toby Greany.
During the early 1990s I lived in China for two years, where I taught English at JiangHan University in Wuhan. Not long before I left, a friend’s dad – a scary documentary film maker who had never given me the time of day before – gave me one piece of advice: ‘learn Chinese!’
In the event I was only partially successful in fulfilling his directive. Before going to China I had spent two years in Brazil, where I had become almost fluent in Portuguese. But Chinese didn’t come so easily; it required sustained and diligent study and I was surrounded by students who just wanted to practice their English. The truth is, it is a difficult language for English speakers to learn. The Foreign Service Institute in Washington estimates that a native English speaker takes approximately 2200 hours to become proficient in Chinese, compared to 600 hours in French.
So this presents an interesting challenge for teachers and schools in the UK that want to introduce Chinese to (more…)