The Importance of Mandarin
“They all speak English, don’t they?” For so long, this has been the mantra of so many in the UK who, for one reason or another, have little or no facility with another language. Further still, this often masks an aversion to engaging with other cultures. When you realise that the distance between the UK and its nearest continental neighbour (22 miles across the Channel) is just about half the distance from St Bees to Carlisle, it perhaps makes you think again. Is it just possible that those who speak only English engage only with others who speak English? Does that mean that there are ‘untapped resources’ out there? Current estimates put the number of Mandarin speakers globally at 1.051 BILLION, and we are pleased to be adding a few more here at St Bees School. What is more, the pupils are loving it!
Gareth Seddon, Headmaster
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Meet the Teachers – Mrs Zhang
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve worked in many sectors in both China and the UK, including government, business, media and academia. My academic background is Environmental Management. My passion for teaching stemmed from my childhood and seven years ago, I came across an opportunity to change my career track and finally became a teacher. This has allowed me to work with a number of schools, a college and two universities one after another. At the moment I am also working with Lancaster University’s China Centre as a researcher.
What inspired you to start teaching Mandarin?
I love learning from people including our young pupils, and I really enjoy sharing my experiences with them. Naturally as a teacher of Mandarin Chinese, I love language and culture. Whilst my passion has always been there, my Chinese teaching experience started more than 25 years ago when I tutored fellow students in Beijing Language and Culture University, China. I have achieved the qualification of Teacher of Chinese to Those Who Speak Other Languages. So far during my teaching experience my students have varied from the age five to sixty-five. I was also selected as the only local teacher contracted for the five Confucius Institutes in North West England.
What excites you about St Bees School?
The St Bees School vision fascinates me; I would interpret this as ‘when the West meets the East’. This also fits perfectly into my own personal and career experiences. In my Chinese teaching, I have always found my previous professional practice beneficial, especially in terms of cross-culture communication, international cooperation and Mandarin broadcasting and newspaper reporting. For our pupils at St Bees, I see myself as not just a teacher of Chinese, but also a story teller of China with an international perspective.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Outside of my teaching time I am a Voluntary Radio Presenter of CANDO FM, a community radio station which covers the Barrow-in-Furness area. I am also a volunteer of the RSPB and a member of Millom Amateur Dramatic Society.
St Bees School Half Term: 22nd October – 2nd November
Autumnfest: 22nd October – 26th October
- Monday AM/PM – Bushcrafts/Arts & Crafts from Bushcraft materials
- Tuesday AM/PM – Swimming/C&C Dogs talk and activities!
- Wednesday AM/PM – Monster Making with Play Doh!/Bugsnstuff creature show and tell
- Thursday AM/PM – Pumpkin Carving/Ghost Garland Making
- Friday AM/PM – Face Painting/Halloween Party!
Assessment day: 25th October
Open day: 24th November