Monday 08 February 2016


One north Belfast primary school is going bananas for Mandarin to mark the start of the Chinese New Year.

Carr’s Glen PS brought together its P7 pupils to celebrate the Year of the Monkey by learning about the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac through language.

The event was led by the school’s Chinese Language Assistant, Peiwei Xu, who is in Northern Ireland through the British Council’s Language Assistant Programme. 

This is the third year Carr’s Glen, which has languages at its very heart, has employed a Chinese Language Assistant — previously they’ve also taken on a Spanish Language Assistant and held classes in Arabic.

Speaking about the importance of Mandarin was the school’s Headmaster Derek Harkness.

He said: “We live in a global society and it’s important to make our children more globally aware and open their eyes and ears to a new world. By teaching the pupils Mandarin, we hope to immerse them in both the culture and language, as well as encourage them to see the world differently.

“The Chinese New Year is a great time for the pupils to celebrate what they have learnt and reignite their passion for the language. Peiwei is an excellent teacher and the children really enjoy her classes, something we hope to build upon.”

Also speaking about the scheme was Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director of British Council Northern Ireland.

He said: “The British Council’s recent “languages of the future” report highlighted the importance over the next 20 years of Mandarin and other languages to the UK. With a rapidly changing international picture, it is key that we do all we can to prepare our young people for life in a globalised, multicultural society.

"Our pupils can benefit from being outward looking and embracing the opportunities that open up new horizons for their future through greater exposure and understanding of other languages and cultures. 

“Languages are just one way to open up this world and we hope through schemes such as this one, we can continue to prepare young people for a more international, connected world.

British Council Northern Ireland creates a number of international opportunities to China. This includes for schools, students and academics, employers and artists.

Schools have until March 31 to apply for a Chinese Language Assistant through the British Council. For more information visit:

 For more information on British Council Northern Ireland visit or follow on Twitter:


Notes to Editor

For further information, please contact: 

Claire McAuley, Communications Manager, T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Twitter: @BCouncil_NI or  Facebook

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We work in over 100 countries worldwide to build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people. We work in the arts, education, English, science, sport and governance and last year we engaged face to face with 18.4 million people and reached 652 million. We are a non-political organisation which operates at arm’s length from government. Our total turnover in 2009/10 was £705 million, of which our grant-in-aid from the British government was £211 million. For every £1 of government grant we receive, we earn £2.50 from other sources. For more information, please visit:, on Facebook –  or follow us on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI or Facebook