New Mandarin GCSE to be introduced
12 February 2008
A new GCSE qualification in Mandarin Chinese is to be introduced in Britain this autumn.
While a Mandarin GCSE already exists, it is currently directed at native speakers, and is therefore off-puttingly difficult for learners of the language. Since 2001, the number of students taking the exam has fallen by 14%.
In the past, various organisations - including teachers’ associations, the British Council and the Confederation of British Industry - have all suggested that the teaching of Mandarin should be encouraged. Currently it is offered as an option in around 12% of secondary schools, but the lack of available teachers may be an obstacle to any great increase. Only two of this year’s batch of Chinese graduates went on to train as teachers, and there are currently only 85 Chinese language assistants in British schools.
The government intends that by 2010 all 7-11 year olds will have language lessons as part of their regular curriculum, and that there should be at least one specialist language teacher in every school. This means a large increase will be needed in the number of qualified primary language staff. Currently there are approximately 1,000 teachers for approximately 19,000 primary schools in the country.
The overseas placement is aimed to help trainee teachers improve their language skills, and also to experience a different educational context. By the end of their placement the trainees are expected to be able to teach another subject in the children’s mother tongue.
For more information – BBC Education News
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