Irish schools introduce Chinese culture and language courses for students


Chinese culture and language courses are being offered in pilot programs in secondary schools around Ireland. Being offered as a new Transition Year module, the new course will provide Irish teenagers with the opportunity to learn Chinese language and culture.

The Irish Independent reports on the newest subject being introduced to Irish students.  Education Minister Ruairi Quinn was joined by representatives of the Chinese embassy and the Hanban Institute, the headquarters of Confucius institutes worldwide, were in Portlaoise for the program’s official launch.

Currently, 22 of about 730 secondary schools have adopted the Chinese module into their curriculum. It will be up to individual schools whether or not they want to adopt the new Chinese programs.

A piqued interest in Chinese comes as Ireland is actively working on creating stronger trade links with the economic powerhouse. 2012 saw China's vice-president Xi Jinping spend three days in Ireland in February, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny making a return trip to China in March.

The primary aim of the new Transition Unit is to awaken curiosity in Chinese by introducing students to both modern and traditional aspects of Chinese culture, all with the introduction of Chinese language along the way. An array of Chinese cultural studies are being offered that range from martial arts, ancient Chinese medicine, tea-making and paper-cutting to modern student life.

Developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the UCD Confucius Institute, the new modules should present Junior Cert students with option of doing a short course in Chinese by 2014. Long term, the goal is to offer Chinese as a Leaving Cert subject.