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The Strength of the Chinese Language Program at Wellington College

August, 2015
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wellington-shanghai_mandarin-learning_001For many foreign children in international schools here in Shanghai, Chinese lessons are a big factor in their education.

Learning Chinese is steadily becoming a more important skill as China develops into a larger player on the international market. Although many students of international schools here will undoubtedly use their Chinese language skills and cultural fluency in their future careers, Chinese learning has some positive side effects as well.

One of the fundamental aims of Wellington College is to fully integrate Chinese language into the college’s values and practices. Wellington’s Mandarin program provides multiple opportunities to bring both language and culture into the learning experience of every pupil inside the classroom as well as through a wide range of extra-curricular activities, focusing on Chinese history, arts, cuisine, music, and drama.

Helena Hicks, Wellington’s Director of Chinese Studies, discovered that learning the language may be a factor in developing English skills as well. The department puts a great emphasis on bilingual achievement, and using the English National Curriculum, combined with uniquely developed attainment levels, Hicks believes she has found a perfect balance in teaching Mandarin with an internationalized focus, rather than a localized one.

Following enormous success Wellington, after only eight months of teaching, competed at the Shanghai Pudong New Area International Students Chinese Writing competition where ten of its pupils won an award (1 first award, 2 second awards and 7 third awards). It seems that Hicks may be onto something.

For young children, learning a second or third language seems to come easily, and has been encouraged as it is seen as an important factor in further academic success. Embracing a positive learning environment from a young age, and encouraging a wide range of reading, even outside your own language, has been seen to broaden the mind, as it develops not only a new language, but also your own.


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