At Newington Lindfield, we provide Mandarin as the students’ additional language. Many students and parents would probably ask: Why learn Mandarin? Isn’t it the most difficult language to learn? People all over the world learn how to speak English, why do we need to learn another language? How long would it take to learn Mandarin? Why?
Newington College is a Primary Years Programme (PYP) school. Learning additional languages other than the mother tongue supports students in conceptual development and critical thinking under new situations. Students will learn how to apply their learning, transfer their knowledge from one area to another, and make new connections. In addition, students are encouraged to be open-minded communicators using more than one language.
According to Babbel Magazine, Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. Recently, a friend of mine went to Spain for a business trip. She was at this small traditional Spanish restaurant and was offered a lot of great food. The owner, who can only speak in Spanish, tried to chat with my friend who cannot understand a word of Spanish. While my friend was struggling to understand the owner, a stranger sat nearby who is from Austria leaned over and said to my friend in Mandarin: “He was asking you what would you like to order”. The Austrian gentleman later told my friend that his Mandarin is better than his Spanish. As for my friend, it was a Wow moment that she would never forget!
Here in Australia, many of our neighbouring countries speak Mandarin as well. If we zoom in to Chatswood, one of the surrounding suburbs near our campus, Mandarin is the second most spoken language after English. It is fun to eavesdrop (practice listening) on other people’s conversations in different languages.
So, is Mandarin hard to learn? Yes and no. It all depends on what a learner wants to achieve (proficiency level) and the learner’s attitude. It’s easy to learn the daily greetings and counting in Mandarin, however, if one wants to be able to read/write/speak/listen in depth, it will take time and dedication as it would to master any language. A great attitude of a learner is another crucial attribute to do well in Mandarin. A closed minded person would find many excuses to justify the reason why they are failing to learn a language.
Cultural awareness is deemed to be one of the integral parts of human communication, it allows us to better understand others and ourselves from different angles. There is a saying, “a language is a window into another culture”. We are preparing our students to become global citizens, nurturing their compassion and understanding towards humanity, stimulating their minds and encouraging creativity.
Our students will become pillars of the society. Learning Mandarin provides the opportunity to see a bigger world. We are ready to prepare and nurture our boys to become all-rounded citizens. It may be a challenging journey but together we can do it!
Eva Angel – Mandarin Teacher