Introducing Mandarin Chinese into the Modern Foreign Language Programme of Primary Schools: Why Children in Early Years of Key Stage One and Two Should Learn the Language.

articles Aug 25, 2023

French and Spanish is commonly introduced into Primary School. But have you ever thought of introducing Mandarin Chinese, the language spoken by the most people on Earth?

This blog will discuss the benefits of teaching Mandarin Chinese as part of a modern foreign language curriculum in Primary schools. The cognitive advantages of language learning, the difficulties of teaching it, and the best methods for incorporating it into the curriculum will all be discussed.



Understanding Mandarin Chinese

Ni hao! (Hello in Mandarin) Have you ever wanted to know why Mandarin Chinese is becoming a popular choice for primary schools in the UK? We will explore the importance of Mandarin Chinese in today's world and why it should be added to the modern foreign language program of primary schools.

Mandarin Chinese, also known as Putonghua, is the most spoken language in the world. With over 1 billion speakers globally, it has become a significant tool for international communication. Historically, Chinese characters were developed approximately 4000 years ago, and Mandarin Chinese is currently the official language of China, Taiwan, and Singapore.

With China becoming a global superpower, and Brexit looming over the UK, the introduction of Mandarin Chinese into the primary school curriculum could not be more appropriate. Primary school years are a crucial time when children develop strong foundations for language development, and Mandarin Chinese would prove to be a valuable addition.

As a tonal language with a different writing system, Mandarin Chinese is distinct from European languages. Despite this, children at a primary level have proven to be more able to learn new languages and retain them to fluency, making the language more accessible than it might seem.

In the next section, we will discuss why Mandarin Chinese is an essential language to learn at a young age.


Why teach Mandarin Chinese in primary school?

In the age of globalisation, it's crucial to expose children to different cultures and languages. English is an essential language, but learning Mandarin Chinese has become a necessity for children in the UK due to the booming Chinese economy. Primary schools are now adding Mandarin Chinese to their modern foreign language programmes, and it's about time we discussed the benefits.

Mandarin Chinese is the official language of China, Taiwan, and Singapore. It's the most widely spoken language globally, with approximately 955 million speakers worldwide. The language originated in China and has a complex writing system with over 50,000 characters. The spoken language comprises four tones, making it challenging for beginners to comprehend.


Why teach Mandarin Chinese in primary school?

Multiculturalism: Teaching Mandarin Chinese in primary schools exposes children to Chinese culture, customs, and traditions. It promotes diversity and tolerance among students, enabling them to discover the different ways of life in China. Learning Mandarin can also strengthen ties with the Chinese community and create opportunities for cultural exchange visits.

Economic Advantage: The Chinese economy is rapidly growing, and the country's global presence is increasing. Several companies now outsource their businesses to China, creating various employment opportunities for English-speaking individuals who can speak Mandarin fluently. Learning the language in primary school gives children a competitive edge in the job market, enhancing their employability in the future.


Cognitive benefits of learning a language

Improved problem-solving skills: Learning Mandarin Chinese requires logic and memorisation, improving children's analytical and problem-solving skills. The language is also tonal, making it ideal for developing better listening skills and attention spans.

Improved memory retention: Studies show that learning two or more languages can improve memory retention and attention. Children who learn Mandarin Chinese can easily store a vast number of characters in their memory and recall them later.


Challenges of teaching Mandarin Chinese in primary school

Different writing system: Mandarin Chinese has a complex writing system with over 50,000 characters. Teaching the language requires specialised teachers and resources, which may not be readily available in all primary schools. Teachers may have to develop creative ways of teaching to make the language more accessible to students.

Tonal language: Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, meaning the same word can have different meanings depending on the tone used. This aspect of the language requires a considerable amount of listening skills and practice to master.


Implementing Mandarin Chinese into the curriculum

Best practices: Mandarin Chinese should be taught gradually, starting with basic topics like greetings, numbers, colours, animals, and food items. The classroom should be interactive, with plenty of opportunities to practice speaking, writing, and listening to the language. Teachers should include cultural aspects by adding activities such as calligraphy and Chinese paper-cutting.

Resources: Primary schools can incorporate various resources to support Mandarin learning, including textbooks, interactive software, videos, and Mandarin tutors. Online resources such as Duolingo can also supplement classroom learning, making the language more accessible.

In conclusion, learning Mandarin Chinese in primary school has numerous benefits and helps children develop the cognitive abilities necessary to succeed in today's world. Moreover, teaching Mandarin Chinese to children promotes multiculturalism and enhances economic opportunities. MANDO SCHOOL is an excellent programme to consider for primary schools looking to add Mandarin Chinese to their foreign language programmes. Together, we can prepare our children for an increasingly globalised world.


Cognitive benefits of learning a language

We all know that learning a new language has its benefits. But do you know precisely how beneficial it can be for your cognitive functions? It is no secret that the younger you start learning a language, the more profound your understanding will be. Well, when it comes to learning Mandarin Chinese, this statement is one hundred percent accurate. So, what are these cognitive benefits of learning this language?

Improved problem-solving skills: Yes, you heard it right. Learning Mandarin Chinese can enhance your problem-solving abilities- an essential skill that could help you excel in every domain of your life. Mandarin Chinese has a peculiar character system comprising unique pictographs to represent words or concepts. It enhances visual memory and helps learners gain insight into different ways of thinking. Such thinking styles allow learners to interpret and solve complex problems in creative and innovative ways.

Improved memory retention: Let's face it- there is a lot to memorise when learning a new language. And for those who are worried about remembering all those characters and the tones, Mandarin Chinese will work wonders for improving your memory retention. As each tone has a distinct meaning, it forces learners to concentrate and remember not only the characters but also the different tones and their meanings. In turn, this helps improve working memory and recall.

Learning Mandarin Chinese has many cognitive benefits; we have just named a few. By including Chinese in the modern foreign language program in primary schools, young learners can develop cognitive functions and skills that could help them excel inside and outside the classroom.


Challenges of teaching Mandarin Chinese in primary school

Teaching Mandarin Chinese in primary schools has its fair share of obstacles. The main challenges include the different writing system and the tonal language of the Mandarin dialect.

Unlike English, Mandarin is a logographic language where every character represents a complete idea or word. This poses a challenge for teachers who are not familiar with the language as they need to understand and interpret the characters correctly. Additionally, children need to memorise thousands of characters to read and write fluently. This can be overwhelming for both teachers and students.

Another challenge is tonality. Mandarin has four tones: flat, rising, falling and falling then rising. The tone of a word can drastically change its meaning. For example, the word "ma" can mean "horse" or "mother" depending on the tone used. This makes it extremely important for teachers to enunciate correctly and for students to have a good ear for the language.

Overall, teaching Mandarin requires a different approach and a lot of effort. However, the cognitive benefits and future economic advantages outweigh the challenges involved. With the right resources, curriculum and teaching methods, schools can successfully implement Mandarin into the modern foreign language programme.


Implementing Mandarin Chinese into the curriculum

Implementing Mandarin Chinese into the curriculum requires some best practices and resources that can ensure effective learning and teaching. One of the best practices for teaching Mandarin Chinese is the use of visuals such as pictures, videos, and real-life objects to aid learning. Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, so it is essential to encourage students to listen and repeat the sounds and tone of words.

Another best practice is the use of interactive games, apps, and songs that teach Mandarin Chinese in fun and exciting ways. This approach encourages children to engage more and helps them remember what they learn.

When it comes to resources, there are many that can be used in the classroom, such as language learning software, learning tools, workbooks, and textbooks. These resources can provide a structure for learning, help with tracking progress, and support independent learning outside the classroom.

Online resources such as web-based software, virtual learning platforms, and video conferencing tools can also be used to improve accessibility and flexibility in teaching Mandarin Chinese.

While implementing Mandarin Chinese into the curriculum, it is essential to ensure that teachers have the necessary training and support. Teachers should be provided with professional development opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills in teaching Mandarin Chinese effectively.

n conclusion, implementing Mandarin Chinese into the curriculum requires best practices such as the use of visuals, interactive games, and songs and resources such as language learning software, workbooks, and textbooks. Teachers need training and support to ensure successful implementation, and online resources can provide accessibility and flexibility.



To sum it up, introducing Mandarin Chinese into primary schools is a progressive move that offers numerous benefits to children. Not only does it promote multiculturalism, but it also equips children with a valuable skill that they can use in the future, especially in the ever-expanding global economy. Learning Mandarin Chinese is also shown to have cognitive benefits such as improving problem-solving skills and memory retention.

Of course, there are challenges that come with teaching Mandarin Chinese, such as its different writing system and tonal language. However, with the right resources and best practices, Mandarin Chinese can be easily implemented into the curriculum.

Overall, teaching Mandarin Chinese in primary schools is a move that we should all strive to support. It is a positive step towards creating a more diverse and globally competitive future generation. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now to MANDO SCHOOL and give your child a head start in life!



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