Friday 23rd August 2019

Year 9 Learn Mandarin Chinese

A group of Year 9 students finished their Spring Term tasting a brand new language: Mandarin Chinese. As a reward for their hard work in Spanish over the past few months, Miss Arbon s agreed to dedicate the last lesson of the term to explore cultural links between China and Spain and also introduce the basic elements of this beautiful language. By applying similar techniques used by language teachers at Beijing Normal University, pupils were first introduced to the four spoken tones and soon realised that Ma (mother) and Ma (horse) should not be confused!

Chinese characters can be difficult to learn for outsiders: a native person would know 20,000 characters although perhaps only frequently use 1,000. However, knowing just 200 should let a traveller get by to work out road signs, menus and timetables. Therefore, we began with the 12 basic signs (moon, soon, gate, person, fire, woman, etc) and then rapidly learnt to combine them to make new words (volcano, crowd, argument, home, etc) and start making short sentences. For example the character hao ("good") is made up of two symbols: mother and son. It is also used for simple expressions, such as "ni hao"("hello" or literally translated as "you good").

The enthusiasm of pupils allowed for excellent progress throughout this special lesson. As a result, it could only finish with a quick competition in pairs for "the best calligraphy" award. After some difficult judging decisions, the winners were revealed as Amy and Lucie. Both shared a small and tasty price just on time for Easter. Well done to all for making teaching and learning so enjoyable! Miss Arbon s.