Not enough Mandarin is taught in UK schools, claims report

 

Too few schools are teaching Mandarin Chinese, hampering young people's prospects and putting the UK economy at risk, it was suggested today.

The British Council raised concerns that the number of schools offering the language is "stagnant at best".

Just three per cent of primary-school teachers say that their school offers Mandarin lessons, along with nine per cent of secondary teachers, according to a survey commissioned by the British Council and HSBC.

The poll, which questioned more than 800 teachers, found that, overall, six per cent of schools teach the subject and 91 per cent do not.

Two per cent of those questioned said that their school used to offer it, but have stopped, and a further one per cent said they were planning to start Mandarin classes.

The survey suggests that the number of schools who are beginning to teach the language is dropping off.

Some 29 per cent of those who said that their school provided Mandarin lessons said they had started teaching it between three and four years ago.

About a third (34 per cent) said they had started offering the classes between one and two years ago. Just five per cent said that their school had started teaching the subject less than a year ago.

Last year, 2,541 students sat GCSE Mandarin Chinese, according to official figures. This was up by about 400 on 2011, but down from 3,650 in 2010.

In comparison, 72,606 students took GCSE Spanish last year, up from 66,021 the year before.

British Council chief executive Martin Davidson said: "The UK's future prosperity depends in no small part on our ability to communicate and build relationships with people from around the world, and there are few more important partners for us than China.

"But, despite perceptions that more and more UK schools are teaching Mandarin, all the evidence suggests that the real number is stagnant at best and far too small.

"Without a workforce that can understand and communicate effectively with one of the world's biggest economies, there's a real risk that the UK will struggle to compete and fall behind as a result."

Ministers announced plans last year to make foreign languages compulsory from the age of seven, with schools potentially offering lessons in Mandarin, Latin and Greek as well as Spanish, German and French.

Last summer's A-level results sparked fresh fears of a crisis in modern languages, with concerns raised by exam chiefs that entries for the subject are at risk of "going into freefall".

The number of grades awarded in French was down 5.2 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011, and 13.6 per cent since 2007, while German saw a 7.6 per cent drop, 24.3 per cent since 2007. Spanish entries have fallen 3.4 per cent from 2011 but increased overall by 5.8 per cent since 2007.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of exam board AQA, said the drop in the number of people taking A-levels in traditional modern foreign languages was "a real worry".

The results did show an increase in take-up of Mandarin, with 3,425 entries, compared to 3,237 in 2011.

The YouGov poll questioned 832 teachers between September 21 and 27 last year.

Suggested Topics
News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

ICT Teacher

£22000 - £35000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - SThree Group - Leeds

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: SThree Group has been...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - SThree Group - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: SThree Group has been...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - SThree Group - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: SThree Group has been...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London