Mandarin makes its way into dual-language UK prep school

World Today

While the British government works to cultivate ties with China, one British prep school is working to make its students bicultural, teaching classes in both Mandarin and English.

CGTN’s Kate Parkinson took a tour.

In many ways, Kensington Wade looks like any other school. But this London prep school is different. Children spend half of their time learning in English, and the other half in Mandarin.

“We’re obviously the first in the UK, but I do not think we’ll be the last,” according to head teacher Jo Wallace.

British schools traditionally focused on teaching French and German, but Mandarin is increasingly becoming popular. Kensington Wade makes sure its students learn more than just the language, however.

“Not just becoming bilingual, but also becoming bicultural. A lot of our parents deal with China in their work and very much see that this is the future,” Wallace said.

While parents pay for their children to attend Kensington Wade, learning Mandarin is not confined to just London’s most affluent families.

Last year the government launched its “Mandarin Excellence Program,” which aims to get at least 5,000 young people speaking Mandarin by 2020.

By the time the youngest children here leave school, China will more than likely be the world’s largest economy. And at a time when the UK is repositioning itself on the world stage, for some British parents it seems there is no skill that will be more valuable to their children than speaking Mandarin.