• Should we be teaching Chinese in UK schools?

    By Nicola Pitchford -

  • 3

Yukinori Yanagi, 'Pacific', 1996

  • Pacific, 1996
  • Yukinori Yanagi
  • © Yukinori Yanagi

Languages other than English have been taught in our schools for many years. When my parents went to school they were taught Latin – but that was a very long time ago! I was taught French and Spanish. I’ve forgotten most of my Spanish but I can still speak French – although not very well. But who decides which languages children should learn?

China has a rapidly growing economy and is becoming very important for businesses in the UK. So should we be teaching Chinese in our schools? Many teachers think we should and Chinese is starting to be taught in some schools across the UK.

Joesph Beuys, 'Chinese Hare Sugar', 1979

  • Chinese Hare Sugar, 1979
  • Joseph Beuys
  • © DACS, 2009

But it’s not an easy language to learn. It has several differences to English, which makes it difficult for us to learn. For example, it has a different alphabet to English, and Chinese symbols based on meaning more than sound. Also, slight differences in how a word spoken can change its meaning, as you saw in the video. But scientists know that the brain can learn to recognise these differences with plenty of practice and time.

So even though it’s hard, would you like to learn Chinese? Tell us why?

Pick your brain

Would you like to learn Chinese?

  • Yes, even though it would be hard
    (66.67%, 10 Votes)
  • No, it seems too difficult
    (0%, 0 Votes)
  • I would like to try
    (33.33%, 5 Votes)
  • I'm not sure
    (0%, 0 Votes)

Discussion Area

  1. I can count to twenty in Chinese (I’m not sure about spelling):

    Sap yat
    Sap yee
    Sap sam
    Sap say
    Sap ng
    Sap luk
    Sap chap
    Sap bat
    Sap gow
    Yee sap

    It goes on like that until 100!

    SaveEarth - March 13, 2012

  2. I like your fantastic web site. Just what I was searching for!
    Best regards

    hiit - April 23, 2012

  3. SaveEarth – Hi, I thought I would point out that’s Cantonese (a Chinese dialect), not Chinese.

    KC - May 6, 2012