Mandarin offered in schools as a third language


The possibility exists, that from 2016 Mandarin will be offered in schools as a third language, which may be a good thing, particularly given the global strength of the Chinese market.  The consideration is to either focus on developing our indigenous languages or focus on promoting other international languages within our schools, to create additional opportunity and increase skills levels and value in the job market.

How will this be implemented?
The news that our Education Department is considering offering Mandarin in schools has been met with some resistance.  It is to be offered as a third subject and the recommendation is to pilot at some schools from the 2016 school year.  While schools can decide if they want to offer Mandarin in addition to the compulsory English and other official language, it will require sufficient learners to participate in the initiative in order to host a class.  The suggestion is that it is taught from grade 4 to grade 9, with learners having the option to continue from grade 10.  The Chinese government will be assisting in the training of teachers, while the Department of Education will help finance this initiative.

The advantages of introducing Mandarin in schools
Many countries in the world have also introduced language courses and it makes sense for South Africa to follow this trend.  Particularly as China is the biggest individual country with which South Africa does business.  It will provide a huge advantage to learners, to learn not only the Chinese language, but also understand the culture.  However, parents must consider that Mandarin uses small symbols (logograms), instead of the alphabet and each logogram represents a word – your child should have the aptitude, ability and skill for languages before you consider this option, as hiring tutors could become difficult and costly.

While it could be an investment in your child’s future career prospects, it is critical for our youth to first master English, the language of business, before considering a third additional language

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