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: https://www.britishcouncil.org/language-assistants/employ/chinese-language-assistant