Mandarin Intent Statement
Our school is situated in Preston which has the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) positioned in the city centre. UCLAN has strong links with China and as such, has a high proportion of Chinese students and a successful Chinese Society: The Confucius Society. The school has much involvement with the Confucius Society through Chinese Culture days and after-school Mandarin classes have been attended to by children.
Looking towards the future, the children may be employed in roles where collaboration and trading with China is a necessity. Therefore, not only is the study of Mandarin and the Chinese culture interesting and relevant to the children at Brookfield, it is also aspirational - giving the children links to UCLAN and planting the seeds of higher education and lifelong learning.
Mandarin has been introduced as a new language; all KS2 year groups will be learning the same material at the same time. This will result in a “staggered” progression over the first four years with unequal levels of attainment by the end of Y6 until the Y3 cohort reaches that point.
The suggested programme of study is designed to be sufficiently flexible to be adapted to whatever level of learning ability is appropriate to each year group. In particular, teachers should keep in mind the scope for extending elements of Inter-cultural Understanding and cross-curricular study not directly linked to linguistic progress.
The teaching of Mandarin utilizes and emphasizes the unique characteristics of the language, both written and spoken. The writing system, characters, is seen as one of the great barriers to learning Mandarin, and often finds itself corralled as a problem area to be addressed separately. In fact, particularly with young learners, the fascination of characters is a great attraction and offers a chance to introduce them as an integral part of the language at an early stage. Acquiring a large written vocabulary of characters will remain a comparatively lengthy process, but Primary Mandarin offers a great opportunity to develop familiarity with the structure and composition of characters, to the cement their association with both sound and meaning and to build a significant reading/recognition vocabulary.
Young learners have no difficulty hearing and reproducing Mandarin sounds including their tonal value without deconstructing them, and it is this ability that should be harnessed. Of course explanation must be given in order to allow them to differentiate, but the emphasis must be on hearing and reproducing, not recording.
A fundamental tool of the Mandarin teaching techniques in this Scheme of Work would be the consistent use of colour-coding for tone in introducing new characters. Thus all new characters that are read in the 1st tone might be red, 2nd tone blue and so on. This also provides another hook for character recognition and memorisation. The strong visual appeal of Chinese is emphasised and employed in both oracy and literacy, and the distraction of ‘pinyin’ ( “spell sound,” spelling out Chinese phrases with letters from the English alphabet) can be minimised.
All teaching materials can easily be adapted to this approach, and where pinyin is, inevitably, employed it should, for example in PowerPoints or similar presentations, appear after the character and meaning are displayed, not simultaneously; or, at the very least, be shown in smaller and less bold type so it is not the first thing a western eye is drawn to. Flash cards too, can be designed with all this in mind.
The other vital characteristic of Mandarin, which is at the heart of the language’s potential for opening up new ways of thinking, understanding and communicating for the young learner, is its essentially conceptual nature.
The following bullet points present a basic explanation of what this means.
· European languages seek precision of meaning through complex grammar and precise vocabulary, but Mandarin essentially uses context to refine a broader concept into a specific meaning.
· Contextualising words and phrases, and sentence structure, take the roles which, in general, cases, tenses, genders, singulars and plurals play in other languages.
· English speakers are familiar with the idea of one word having several different meanings, but in Mandarin this is at the very heart of understanding the language.
· Whilst there are many words/characters with precise meanings and functions as parts of speech (noun, verb etc), in many other cases a single word/character may embody a concept which only acquires its specific meaning and/or function through its particular context.
· As an illustration, the common word 快 kuài: in terms of function, it illustrates the Chinese stative verb in its meaning “to be quick” as well as being a simple adjective (e.g. 快车 kuài chē express train/bus).
· in terms of meaning, a simple dictionary search reveals a considerable range, either alone or in combination, including rapid, quick, speed, rate, soon, almost, to hurry, clever, sharp, forthright, plain-spoken, pleased and pleasant.
· Not all of the meanings are necessarily relevant to learning elementary Mandarin, but a surprising number are.
· Most importantly, when an understanding of this aspect of Mandarin informs and underpins teaching, it offers possibilities for wider exploration of concepts and communication, even at a beginner’s level, beyond the simple acquisition of basic phrases and vocabulary.
· This need not involve drastic change to the actual material being taught, rather it should involve opportunities to investigate further the breadth of meaning both in language learning and in inter-cultural understanding.
· Directly related to this in the field of character learning discussed above is the relevance of teaching the structure of characters; understanding of the role of the radical in contextualising the concept embodied by the character is an important link in the process of understanding Mandarin as a whole.
The DfE guidance on KS2 MFL identifies the following attainments across KS2. Through following the Scheme of Work, it is intended that the children achieve these aims through the teaching of Mandarin:
- listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding
- explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
- engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help*
- speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures
- develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases*
- present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences*
- read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing
- appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language
- broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary
- write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly 11. describe people, places, things and actions orally* and in writing
- understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English Challenges and solutions