Reversing the modern language trend

With a focus on Mandarin, Dr Judith McClure discusses the need for local partnerships to inspire pupils to take up languages – an essential skill for the 21st century

Three years ago I wrote a very worthy piece on the Scotland China Education Network in SecEd. All we members of the teaching profession know exactly what the adjective worthy means. It was an account of how we had arrived at the right policies, structures, qualifications and collaborations to introduce the teaching and learning of Mandarin in Scotland's schools.

I do not mock this foundation work, which is essential in any new educational initiative. But we recognise that what really makes a difference in our schools is enthusiasm, commitment and innovation.

Three years on, we have the building blocks in place. Mandarin is one of the languages included in some of our Schools of Education, Mandarin teachers are registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland, pupils are able to study Mandarin and follow Scottish Qualifications Authority courses at all levels, and some who obtained Higher or Advanced Higher Mandarin are now studying Chinese at UK universities.

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