Mandarin is thriving at St. Anthony’s! The subject is taught within the curriculum in the Junior House, from Year 1. It becomes optional in the Senior House, taught as an early-morning enrichment activity. Year 6 boys then have the option of taking the ISEB Certificate of Achievement in Mandarin, with much success to date.
In January 2010, St Anthony’s started working with Dragons in Europe, a Mandarin specialist, thus enabling boys not only to learn about Chinese language and culture but also to achieve impressive results: their enthusiasm is encouraged by fun and interactive teaching materials including online material which allows them to study Mandarin at home.
The curriculum has several aspects:
• Learning about the language – the boys learn to say things they really want and need to say, keeping it meaningful;
• Listening, speaking and reading activities – the speaking and listening activities in the teaching material are presented in Pinyin Romanisation to allow the boys concentrate on producing the correct sounds of the language. Therefore their learning of spoken Mandarin is not dependent on their ability to read and write Chinese characters;
• Culture – information about Chinese culture is integrated into the course, including special sections on aspects of modern China;
• Sounds and Tones – the online material has a section of each chapter devoted to sounds and tones, encouraging attention to detail in the pronunciation of the language;
• Amazing characters – these sections show how China’s fascinating script evolved into the shapes we see today;
• Putting it together and review – the sections at the end of each chapter in our textbook encourage flexibility in the use of the language and provide a challenge for more adventurous learners as well as providing a great opportunity to review what has been learnt;
• Auto marking homework – this allows teachers to provide continuous updates on progress. Some even ask to complete their homework multiple times in order to record higher marks!