China trip for Irish educators
Last week, a group of 26 educators, principals and deputy principals from across Ireland embarked on a week-long fact-finding trip in China to experience the teaching and learning of Chinese language and culture there.
In May, we reported how Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn was examining ways for Irish students to take Chinese as a Leaving Certificate exam subject and had introduced a transition-year course on Chinese language and culture, jointly developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the UCD Confucius Institute.
There will also be a short course in Chinese language and culture in the newly reformed Junior Cert, due to commence in 2014.
The China trip is funded by the Hanban (Chinese Language Council International) and the Confucius Institute in UCC, and is aimed at providing the educators with opportunities to establish links with Chinese schools and to get them ready for the future introduction of Chinese into Irish schools in 2014.
“The majority of the schools represented on the trip have already commenced the teaching of Chinese language and culture in their schools,” said Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who is leading the trip. “It is the first trip of its kind, and represents the largest Irish educational group to visit China.”
In the US, Chinese-language teaching has really taken off, and there is a growing awareness in Europe that learning Chinese will give students an edge in the job market of the future. Northern European countries, in particular, are ditching languages like German, French and Spanish in favour of Chinese.
In Britain, one in six schools offers some form of Chinese tuition, and more than 3,200 students took Chinese A-Level exams last year.