Now pupils at an independent North Yorkshire prep school are not just learning about China – but learning the language too!
Youngsters at Belmont Grosvenor School, based at Swarcliffe Hall, Birstwith, are being taught Mandarin, alongside more traditional languages including French and Spanish.
And to celebrate Chinese New Year, pupils put their language skills to the test and welcomed in the Year of the Rabbit in traditional style, wearing Chinese clothes and enjoying a typical oriental lunch.
The Mandarin club is the idea of the school’s Languages Coordinator Anne Hodson, who is teaching a small number of pupils from years 3 to 6 at the co-educational school a basic grasp of Chinese.
Mrs Hodson spent six years living in Hong Kong, and is now studying Mandarin herself at night school.
She is using her newly-acquired language skills to run a Mandarin club for a small group of Belmont Grosvenor pupils – and they are enjoying the experience.
“I am teaching the basics – greetings, numbers, days of the week. We are trying out simple phrases and learning about how the characters are formed. We are also learning about China, and a little bit about their culture,” she said.
“The pupils are picking up the language skills very well and are enjoying their lessons,” she said.
Jane Merriman, headteacher at Belmont Grosvenor School, said she was delighted to be offering something a little different to pupils at the school.
“Twenty per cent of the world’s population live in China and the country has the fastest-growing economy in the world. It is important for our pupils to learn that there is life beyond Europe,” she said.
“The idea of the club is to give children some basic Mandarin skills in a fun and educational environment,” she said.
Belmont Grosvenor School is set in more than 20 acres of countryside on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. With its Magic Tree Day Nursery, the school caters for children from the age of three months to 11 years.
For more information visit the website at www.belmontgrosvenor.co.uk or call 01423 771029 to arrange a tour.