UK: Mandarin classes for all is crackers, in any language

Francis Hult francis.hult at
Sat Jan 16 14:00:38 UTC 2010



Mandarin classes for all is crackers, in any language


This week, Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, has decided to be as idiotic as those old communist education chiefs. They wrongly saw Russian as the language of the future; Balls has settled on Mandarin, announcing that every child will be able to learn it at primary and secondary school.


It would help if he first ensured that our children could learn English properly. In a decade of dealing with school and university leavers on work experience, I'd say that barely one in 10 could write a paragraph without making a mistake. But even if Mr Balls could magic up a generation of literate children, where would he find all those Mandarin teachers? Only 3,469 pupils took a GCSE in Mandarin or Cantonese last year - fewer than one per cent of all language exams taken. And that's at a time when Mandarin is fashionable. Go back a decade and the number of pupils was negligible. 


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