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DGS Mandarin Excellence Programme trip returns

Posted on: 22/07/2019

A group of Year 8 students have just returned from a bespoke two-week intensive study visit to Kunming in China as part of a flagship government language initiative called the Mandarin Excellence Programme. Delivered by the UCL Institute of Education in partnership with the British Council, the programme aims to get at least 5000 pupils in England on track towards fluency in Mandarin by 2020.

More than 800 students from schools across England travelled to China as part of the programme, where they were hosted by universities in cities including Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai and put their Mandarin skills into practice in a range of real-life situations from shopping to taking public transport.

The intensive study visit gave the group of 23 students from DGS the opportunity to boost the language skills they have already gained since they started studying Mandarin in September 2017. Over the course of two weeks, they attended 44 hours of Mandarin lessons at Yunnan University, participated in arts and cultural workshops, and made friends with Chinese counterparts at host schools.

Students also enjoyed Chinese cultural events such as the Opera and, alongside their studies, had the opportunity to visit attractions such as the Stone Forest and Dianchi Lake.

Miss Saunders, who led the trip said, “Chinese is a huge part of MFL at DGS and we have run many trips to China over the years, but this was our first MEP trip – it did not disappoint. It was an incredible opportunity for our students to practise their Chinese in real-life contexts and get a taste for life in China. This trip has been life-changing for our girls.”

As the first initiative of its kind, the Mandarin Excellence Programme gives pupils an unprecedented opportunity when it comes to language learning in England. Students take on an average of eight hours of Mandarin study every week in order to reach a proficient level of ability in a comparatively short time.

Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world and is recognised as a valuable skill for young people in the UK to acquire, with 77 per cent of British business leaders surveyed in 2018 saying that speaking Mandarin will give school leavers a career advantage. Meanwhile, research by the British Council has found that Mandarin is the second most important foreign language for the UK’s influence on the global stage.

Minister of State for School Standards Nick Gibb said: “This intensive study visit provided students from DGS with a wonderful opportunity to enhance their Mandarin skills and experience first-hand the culture that shapes this incredibly important language.

“Young people fluent in Mandarin will be at a significant advantage when competing for jobs with their peers from around the world. That is why we introduced the Mandarin Excellence Programme, which is on track to have 5,000 pupils fluent in Mandarin by 2020. The enthusiasm and energy that both students and teachers are committing to this programme is inspiring and will help build a Britain that’s fit for the future in an increasingly global economy.”

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