Visitor gives kids taste of Mandarin

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Mandarin language teacher, Ren Yanan, with pupils at Kahutara School. PHOTO/NATHAN CROMBIE
Mandarin language teacher, Ren Yanan, with pupils at Kahutara School. PHOTO/NATHAN CROMBIE

Kahutara School is hosting a Mandarin language assistant who will also share her knowledge with two other Wairarapa schools.

Principal Clare Crawford said Ren Yanan started at the school this week through the Confucius Institute after several days of orientation in the capital city.

The school had already hosted Mandarin language assistants over the past two years, she said.

For the coming year Ms Ren, 24, will teach three days a week at the 108-pupil country school, while also assisting to teach Mandarin for a day a week each at Pirinoa and Featherston schools.

She is from the Shanxi Province and has studied English with a major in American literature at Nanjing Normal University.

"I will be teaching some Mandarin and will also share some aspects with the kids of China and Chinese culture."

Mrs Crawford said both Featherston and Pirinoa schools had previously enjoyed the benefits of the visiting language teachers from China, as had Martinborough School last year.

"This is our third year of being accepted as a host school and Yanan will be living with one of our parents. They became just part of the school and the community and part of the time they share their language, and they also work as teacher aides in other classes as well."

Mrs Crawford said the New Zealand curriculum for Year 7 and 8 made study compulsory of a language other than English and Maori, "so we for the past three years have chosen Mandarin".

"Because the Confucius Institute accepted us and we're able to be part of the programme, we are offering Mandarin language study for a third year to all of our children, and it's an awesome opportunity.

"It's really amazing what the institute are doing and the chance to learn Mandarin is something you can't really turn down, and the teachers themselves become part of everyday school life, part of the school family."

Ms Ren travelled to New Zealand with a group of 48 Mandarin language assistants and was welcomed to New Zealand during a visit to Parliament a fortnight ago.

The graduates, from 16 universities in China, will spend the coming year assisting to teach Mandarin in 112 schools throughout the country. Another Mandarin language teacher will assist in classes at Solway College in Masterton.

Others schools that were part of the scheme were in Wellington, the Hutt Valley, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Napier, Rotorua, Murupara, Reporoa, Tokoroa, Tauranga, Whakatane, Kawerau and Opotiki.

About 128 Mandarin language assistants are today working in New Zealand primary, intermediate and secondary schools as part of a programme run by the country's three Confucius Institutes, with support from the Ministry of Education.

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