Why we should be tutoring Mandarin?
According to Bloomberg, China is already an economic superpower with a larger economy than the United States. Right now, it also has the world’s biggest population: roughly 1.3 billion. Most of the people who live there speak either Mandarin or Cantonese.
The rise of China poses some important questions: Should we engage our children in Mandarin tuition to learn Mandarin? Should parents hire a Mandarin Tutor? Will Mandarin speakers soon be at an advantage? Is it possible for English speakers to become fluent in Chinese dialects?
The answer to all of these questions is yes.
There are many reasons why children should study this exciting, unfamiliar language. For a start, leaning Mandarin is fantastic for brain development. According to the BBC, researchers have found that Mandarin —unlike English —uses both sides of the brain, as opposed to just one side. It is great for the development of cognitive faculties, therefore, and encourages children to think in new ways.
Mandarin lessons also expand children’s horizons by exposing them to a rich cultural landscape. In our increasingly interconnected world, this can only be a good thing.
Future careers could also be shaped by a knowledge of Mandarin. A spokesman for the British Council has claimed that “If the UK is to remain globally competitive in the years ahead, we need many more young people being given the chance to master Mandarin.”
Business leaders agree. According to a survey by the Mandarin Excellence Programme (more of which later), more than three-quarters of UK business leaders believe fluency in Mandarin Chinese will give school leavers a career advantage.
Does China have what it takes to be a superpower?
Mandarin and Brain Power
How has British society adapted to the growth of China?
Parents, schools, universities, businesses, and the British government have begun to recognise the importance of learning Mandarin. Now, there are a host of different ways for children to get started.
Mandarin Excellence Programme
This innovative programme, launched by the Department for Education, aims to get 5000 young people speaking Mandarin by 2020. The programme is now in its third year and is proving a great success. More details can be found here: https://ci.ioe.ac.uk/mandarin-excellence-programme/
More and more London schools are encouraging pupils to take GCSE Mandarin. AQA, Edexcel, IGCSE and many other exam boards now set Mandarin exams, which test students’speaking, writing and listening abilities. For more details of the Mandarin tuition provided by Hampstead and Frognal Tutors, please click here: https://hampsteadandfrognaltutors.org.uk/gcse-tuition/gcse-mandarin/
Bi-lingual Chinese-English schools
Mandarin lessons in London are easier to find than ever, with bi-lingual schools popping up throughout the capital. Kensington Wade School, for example, is an English Chinese dual language prep schoolwhich immerses students in both English and Chinese.
The Mandarin Speaking Competition
HSBC and the British Council have teamed together to run a Mandarin Speaking Competition, designed to encourage pupils to improve their language skills. The prize for winners is fabulous: a week in Beijing, complete with visits to historical sites and interaction with Chinese students.
China Study Camps
University College London, which is heavily involved with the Mandarin Excellence Programme, also conducts annual study visits to China for secondary school students in England. On the camp, children are given language and cultural lessons, and go on visits to famous tourist sites.
The SOAS Language Centre
The School of Oriental & African Studies in London runs short courses in Mandarin and Cantonese on week days, in the evenings and on Saturday mornings. The courses stretch from beginners all the way to advanced, and could be perfect for your teenager —or for yourself!
Isn’t Mandarin an impossible language to learn?
Mandarin has a reputation for being fiendishly difficult. With tens of thousands of characters to learn and tongue-twisting pronunciation to master, the language is notorious among English speakers.
Experts have argued that Mandarin is not as difficult as it first appears, however. Writing for the British Council, the Mandarin instructor Weicong Liang said: “Pronunciation is not a problem for British students. Over 60 of the freshmen I’ve been teaching are beginners. None of them has trouble pronouncing Chinese (those whose mother tongue is French or Italian often have more difficulties)”.
Meanwhile, Chinese grammar is not startlingly different to English grammar. Chinese sentence structure, for example, closely resembles English sentence structure. Moreover, unlike French and German, Mandarin does not have different forms based on gender, or singular/plural.
Often the problems children face is not to do with the difficulty of Mandarin itself, but with the lack of teaching resources. Fortunately, more educational resources are being published by the day, all of which help pupils to engage with the language. The BBC, for example, now have a children’s webpage dedicated to Mandarin.
It goes without saying that learning Mandarin is not a walk in the park. But with the right guidance, children can thrive.
Try out your language skills!
Mandarin can be written in two ways. One uses the English alphabet and is called Pinyin. The other uses Chinese characters, which are made up of strokes. Pinyin is designed to help you pronounce the words, but the ultimate goal is to write in characters.
Here is a very small selection of words and phrases to get you started.
Hello = 你好。Nǐhǎo.
How are you? = 你好吗？Nǐhǎo ma?
Thank you = 谢谢。xièxie.
Goodbye = 再见。Zàijiàn