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UK school invests in Mandarin

The head of Wellington College, one of the UK’s leading private boarding schools, predicted this week that demand for Mandarin teaching in UK schools will rise rapidly. The school is opening a Mandarin centre in April which is costing nearly UK£500,000, comprising two Mandarin classrooms in a pagoda-inspired building, with an external courtyard in the Chinese style.

Wellington Mandarin centreSeldon says the new Mandarin centre will help the school cater to growing demand for Chinese language

"China is emerging as one of the great economic powers of the 21st century"

“We will understand the Chinese best when we get inside their psyche, and speaking Mandarin is one way of doing that,” said Seldon. “Mandarin should be a focus for language teaching in every school, state as well as independent.”

Dr Anthony Seldon’s comments follow news this week that the UK has signed a deal to help London become an offshore trading hub for the Chinese currency, the renminbi.

“China is emerging as one of the great economic powers of the 21st century and yesterday’s excellent news from the City reflects this,” said Seldon, who is also a political historian and biographer of former UK Primer Minister Tony Blair.

“To flourish in the knowledge economy of the 21st century, children need to have the confidence, skills and knowledge which learning Mandarin can give.”

Wellington College opened its first overseas branch in China in 2011, Wellington College International in Tianjin, and the school announced today that two further schools will open in Shanghai, one junior school and one combined junior/senior school, and these are in the early stages of development.

Seldon said that Wellington College’s initiatives would further promote interest in Chinese, which was becoming increasingly important to British students seeking to enter the global economy.

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