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Gaelscoil pupils in Cork take Mandarin Chinese lessons

October 3, 2016

A groundbreaking language programme launched yesterday in a Cork school will see Mandarin Chinese being taught formally to senior students.

Aimed at fifth and sixth- class pupils of Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers in Farranferris, on the city’s northside, it is the first formal Chinese language pilot programme of its kind in an Irish primary school.

A second Cork Gaelscoil, on the southside of the city, is expected to be included in the programme within a few weeks.

Spanish — the second- most spoken language in the world — is already being taught to its fifth- and sixth- class pupils.

The school’s board of management approached UCC — home to a Confucius Institute and an Irish Institute of Chinese Studies — to devise a Chinese language programme.

The course launched yesterday will be taught at the Gaelscoil over the next two years by up to 12 visiting Chinese students who are studying for their Masters degree in UCC.

The Gaelscoil children will be taught to speak a language used by more than 1bn people, plus some of the basics of the complex written language. They will each receive certificates at the end of the course.

“As a Gaelscoil we are great believers in languages and immersion education,” said school principal Adrian Breathnach.

“We made this decision as a board of management because Mandarin is now the number-one most spoken language in the world, with over 1bn people speaking it.

“Our Government has also recognised China as a strong emerging economy and greater trade links between the two countries have been forged.

“We see it as a language of the future.”

Mandarin Chinese grammar is considered relatively simple, with no verb conjugation and the tenses expressed by using time phrases such as ‘tomorrow, yesterday, in the future’.

There are also no gender- specific nouns and no need to distinguish between singular and plural nouns.

See video here