London South East Colleges have taken a unique step this week by introducing Chinese language and culture to its curriculum and enrichment programme.
Deputy Principal Andrew Slade welcomed Head Teacher of Orpington Chinese Languages School Gigi Chen to Bromley to take part in a partnership agreement signing ceremony.
The agreement will see London South East Colleges introduce regular lessons in the Chinese language Mandarin to all students studying full-time courses throughout the College. This has been launched at Bromley and will be rolled-out to those studying at Bexley, Greenwich and Orpington in the future. It will also offer Chinese language and culture to students interested in broadening their horizons as part of its extensive enrichment programme.
Over 955 million people speak Mandarin worldwide and the number is increasing as China expands its economy globally. The need for Mandarin speakers from the UK will become crucial if we are to actively engage and trade freely with China and the Far East in the coming years. In November 2015, the College played host to a delegation of Chinese College Principals in a move to foster greater educational and training links with similar institutions throughout China. This formed part of the College’s ambition to develop its international presence by creating a curriculum that has global appeal and develop an international student and staff exchange programme.
During the course of the Summer term, the College ran a pilot project to gage interest in the subject. For one term Ms Chen and her colleagues visited once a week to not just give language lessons but to engage students in Chinese culture and food. They taught them about life in China, the kinds of industries and businesses that are prominent there and the customs and traditions of its people.
Mr Slade is delighted with the outcomes of the pilot. He said: “It is high on the College’s agenda to expose its students to the global economy as part of their education. Out there is a world that is getting smaller by the day. This is thanks to the growth of technology and better communications. The need for our young people to embrace the world beyond our shores is increasing and the College will actively encourage students to look much further afield and consider international opportunities when choosing their careers.”
Ms Chen has lived, studied and worked in the UK for over 17 years. She came originally to study for an MBA and has worked for a number of commercial companies before launching her own school two years ago. She said: “We are honoured to be joining this exciting partnership with London South East Colleges. We share their ambitions to help raise the aspirations and expectations of students and promote high quality and sustainable careers. Trade between the UK and China is entering a new phase and it is healthy for us all to understand each other better and become more accustomed as we move forward. This is only the beginning of what will be a very successful future for all of us.”
The new Chinese language and culture programme will begin in earnest during the Autumn term and aims to create international visits, exchange schemes and links to schools and colleges throughout the world.