In the recent A-levels in the UK, more students sat for A-level Chinese than A-level German amidst a continuing decline in modern foreign languages. In fact, Chinese has become more popular among A-level students than German for the first time – with 3,334 students taking the subject in 2018 compared to 3,058 students who sat for the German language paper.
The move towards Chinese at the A-level comes after the UK government launched a £10m Mandarin Excellence Programme which is aiming for 5,000 young people to become fluent Mandarin speakers by 2020.
Mandarin Chinese is the first language of over 1.25 billion people worldwide, and fluency in the language is widely considered to be useful in an increasingly global economy. Mark Herbert, director of schools and skills at the British Councils said that while Mandarin may be one of the most important languages for the UK’s future prosperity and global standing, modern European languages like Spanish, French and German must not be completely neglected.
This is another sign of China’s growing influence and prominence in the global economy. I agree that the language will undoubtedly become more important in the years to come. In addition, being fluent in more than one language is an added advantage in today’s highly competitive world. In that aspect, it’s good that Singapore has a bilingual policy. We should definitely encourage students to make full use of the opportunity provided.
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