The Linguist

The Linguist 59,1 - February/March 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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26 The Linguist Vol/59 No/1 2020 Has the Mandarin Excellence Programme achieved its goal of having 5,000 pupils on track to fluency by 2020, asks Jody Gee The Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) was launched in September 2016 with the aim of ensuring that at least 5,000 pupils would be on track to achieving fluency by 2020. So as we reach that crucial date, just how well has this intensive programme of study fared? It began with 14 schools who were already experienced in teaching Chinese and had a well-developed Chinese curriculum. Since then, it has expanded considerably. In 2017 there were 37 schools, in 2018 this grew to 65 schools and by 2019 there were 75 schools across the country. Students on the MEP have eight hours of Mandarin study each week, which consists of teacher-taught classroom lessons, enrichment activities and self-study, with intensive courses in China and the UK, both in school and at UK universities including the UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools (IOE CI). The aim is for students to complete their GCSE, A-level and IB Standard qualifications in the language, and eventually reach level 5 of the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK). The Department for Education (DfE) scheme, delivered in partnership with the British Council, also aims to train a sufficient number of teachers to support it; embed effective, sustainable teaching practices that will continue to increase the number of pupils studying Mandarin beyond the life of the programme; and give pupils an immersive experience of China through digital media, UK university support and visits to China. Mandarin is a priority for the DfE because it has been identified as one of the most important languages for the UK's future prosperity. As the most spoken language in the world, it connects speakers to an exciting and dynamic culture, as well as boosting career opportunities and international employment prospects. Speaking Mandarin gives students a skills set that is much sought- after among UK businesses and held by only 1% of the British population. When it joined the MEP, the Anglo European School had already been teaching Chinese for 22 years, along with eight other languages, including Spanish, Russian and Arabic. Unlike other students at the school, for whom the study of two languages is compulsory to GCSE, MEP pupils learn Chinese as a single language Gaining excellence VARIED ACTIVITIES Pupils of the Anglo European School learn Chinese in the classroom (main image); and (below) perform a traditional fan dance as part of the school's celebrations for Chinese New Year

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