International Chinese Language Teachers Association

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Give all pupils chance to learn Mandarin

Every secondary school pupil should have the chance to learn languages like Mandarin, Childrens Secretary Ed Balls said yesterday.

Ties with nations such as China were becoming increasingly important and it was vital that youngsters learned skills that allowed Britain to keep up, Mr Balls said.

Teenagers will be able to take Mandarin as a GCSE from this year.

The language came third in a poll by the CBI, to find the languages employers were most looking for.

More than a third (38 per cent) of employers looking for staff with a foreign language were looking for Mandarin or Cantonese, only behind French (52 per cent) and German (43 per cent). Spanish was fourth, chosen by 28 per cent of employers.

Mr Balls said yesterday that it made sense for a specialist language college to help to provide such languages to other secondaries. He also suggested that Indonesia – where Bahasa Indonesia is spoken – was becoming an important country.

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