The real story behind the rise in Chinese study

We often read about the rise and rise of Chinese teaching in our schools, but what is the real story behind the up-take figures? Katharine Carruthers explains

In August every year, somewhere in the media, a journalist writes a story about the meteoric rise of Chinese teaching in schools as demonstrated by the A/AS and GCSE entry data. Last year, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications, Chinese was the second most popular “other MFL” at GCSE and the most popular at A level (any modern foreign language which is not French, German, Irish, Spanish or Welsh is classified as “other”).

What does this data really tell us? To my mind, the story behind this data is globalisation. At A level, it reflects the number of young people from China coming to the UK to study in the sixth form (predominantly in the independent sector) who do Chinese as a third or fourth subject and at GCSE, it reflects the number of British-born Chinese who want to have (or maybe whose parents want them to have) a qualification in their home language and see it as a pragmatic investment in their future.

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