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Mandarin in KS3 curriculum any experience?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by xcaroline, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. xcaroline

    xcaroline New commenter

    Hi, I work in an independent school where we teach French, Spanish and German throughout the school. We have been teaching Mandarin as an extra-curricular subject for years, mainly enabling Chinese heritage pupils to take qualifications in their native language but also allowing some non-native speakers to learn the language and take GCSE, with considerable success. It has now been decided to introduce Mandarin into the KS3 curriculum alongside the 3 "traditional" European languages, giving new pupils in Year 7 a free choice of 2 out of 4 language options (they will have taster sessions in all 4 during the Autumn term, make their choice before Christmas and begin lessons proper in their chosen 2 in January). The MFL department staff have concerns that eventually, Mandarin may take pupils away from Fr/Sp/Ger (it's inevitable) and in particular reduce GCSE and A Level numbers in these languages. A Level numbers are very small as it is. Has anyone else been through a similar scenario? I am just wondering how it has panned out in other schools and if our concerns are justified.
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    It's probably reasonable to assume that the total numbers doing GCSE/A-levels in languages will not increase noticeably by offering an extra option. You're not going to have any doing three languages, as they will only get to study two in KS3. It's not likely that many more will opt to do two as a result of more choice of which two they are learning. I'm guessing that your current Mandarin students are sometimes doing it as a third language, and so you may even have a fall in the total numbers across the four languages.

    Choice is a nice idea, but not always prudent. My daughter's school used to offer two different "second" languages, but have stopped because with a pool of only 30 learning each in KS3, they were were only ever going to get small numbers for each at GCSE - throwing up issues of whether they were large enough groups to run.

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