China and New Zealand Work Together to Promote Mandarin Study

I found this article about a an ambitious program captained by the Confucius Institute at the University of Auckland to quintuple the number of students learning Mandarin in New Zealand.

From the article:

“Last year, the institute placed eight assistants in New Zealand schools to promote the language – this year, that number will be 18.

Under the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement, up to 150 Mandarin assistants can work in New Zealand at any one time.

“We are very encouraged by a near 40 per cent increase in Kiwis learning Mandarin last year and will be doing much more to generate interest in the language this year,” said institute director Nora Yao.

“I will expect a more significant growth, and even if we do not reach our target, I am confident we will get near there.”

This year, 18 schools will be hosting the Chinese language assistants, whose jobs will be to fuel interest in Mandarin among students and train local teachers to teach the language.”

First, kudos to the governments of China and New Zealand for undertaking this effort. It won’t succeed (a huge percentage of those who start studying Mandarin drop out before they learn more than a few phrases), but it is an admirable effort.

Question for the reporter: How do you train local teachers to teach Mandarin when they don’t speak it in the first place? Or, are there already certified teachers in place who are Mandarin speakers and readers?

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5 Comments

Filed under China, Greater Asia, Language, The Learning Chinese Craze

5 responses to “China and New Zealand Work Together to Promote Mandarin Study

  1. Well china is the center to manufacturing and this is why world is moving to china . This is good to see that china is helping the world to come over the language barrier

  2. Andy

    I’m a New Zealander and my niece is benefitting from this program. It’s probably worth noting that we’ve had a large influx of Chinese immigrants over the past 20 years or so (and we also have a large number of English schools for foreigners, many of whom are Chinese). So we have a number of native speakers here and there is not a day that goes by without me passing people speaking Mandarin. So I think there is some hope, although I appreciate that this will not lead to the fluency that you write about.

  3. Mandarin Language is very popular and both countries are working to promote it that I think is really a great job. My relatives also want to learn the same and they will start learning from next month.

  4. Anne

    I would love to get any input you might have on effective strategies for teaching Mandarin to children living in an English speaking country. I have a four year old daughter and have been working on finding ways to help her become fluent while she is young. As a native English speaker that studied Mandarin at university and went on 6 month stints to China and Taiwan (more than a decade ago), I know the time and commitment invoIved in learning the language. Because there is a window of opportunity for young children to naturally acquire language skills and superior pronunciation, I strongly believe in the need for an early (and positive) start to second language education for children.

    I am originally from the US, but am now settled in New Zealand. I was excited to see the new initiative referred to in your post, but unfortunately New Zealand actually doesn’t have any bilingual or Mandarin immersion programs in its primary schools (e.g. like those in Utah, Portland, and San Francisco). While a language class once a week for older children may provide some introduction to the language and culture, it is insufficient to enable children to become proficient in Mandarin. I have thought a lot about this and have some of my own views about language learning for children, would love to get your ideas. For parents not able to move countries or hire a Chinese nanny, what resources would you recommend for successfully supporting children in learning Mandarin as a second language?

    • truettblack

      Anne, I’m afraid I can’t help, but do get in touch with my friend Terry Waltz. She knows the answers to your questions. Google her–she’s easy to find (and I’m on my iPad). Good luck!

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