Cooperative Academy Leeds Chinese New Year event

Cooperative Academy Leeds held a Chinese New Year celebration event to demonstrate the progress their Year 7 ‘Inspire’ group have made in Mandarin lessons since starting the language in September.

We were invited to attend to offer workshops and performances, and were delighted to get involved and show our support for Mandarin education in the local community.

Cooperative Academy Leeds (CAL) introduced Mandarin lessons in September 2017, beginning with a group of 27 talented students who have been learning both Spanish and Mandarin since they started Year 7. Their teacher Emma Jamen is a former student of Mandarin at the University of Leeds, and is now passing on her passion for Chinese language and culture to these young budding linguists. The ‘Inspire Day’ was a Chinese New Year celebration to demonstrate what they have learned in this short time, and introduce other students to the delights of Chinese language and culture.

The programme on Wednesday 7 February began with a dumpling making session, before the group was joined by students from Shakespeare Primary School for a carousel of China-themed craft activities. Visitors to our table cut out a 3D paper version of the Chinese character ‘chun’, which means ‘spring’ and is therefore very appropriate for Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival). After enjoying a delicious Chinese lunch in the canteen, we were treated to a series of performances by the Year 7 students, including role plays in Chinese; songs; a lion dance; and a demonstration of how to use pinyin to type Chinese on a computer. The day ended with a guzheng (Chinese zither) performance by Confucius Institute volunteer Maggie Ma. The young students were entranced by the unusual instrument, and hung on to every note as Maggie played some traditional Chinese songs.

Subject leader for Modern Foreign Language, Jacqui Kirkland, said that the school hopes to continue developing their  Mandarin offering, and sees the potential for the subject to engage all students with foreign languages – even those who have not previously shown much enthusiasm for the more commonly taught European languages.

The Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds works to support Mandarin language learning in the local community, and it is fantastic to see schools like CAL introducing Chinese into their timetable.

Photos from the event coming soon.

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