Hon. Myron V. Walwyn, Minister for Education and Culture announced on Tuesday June 13th in the House of Assembly that Mandarin and French subjects will be piloted in selected schools.
He said that the education system for many years has offered Spanish as the only foreign language taught in schools from Grades 3 through 12. However, with this new thrust to improve the foreign language offerings in schools, plans are afoot to include Spanish at all grade levels from Kindergarten through to Grade 12.
"Mandarin and French will be piloted with a view to having them also available at all Grade levels eventually. The time has come to open the foreign language course offerings and make them accessible to all school aged children."
He said considering the resourcefulness to being bi-lingual or multi-lingual in the current economy, it is prudent to start preparing students for these imminent job offerings by providing them with opportunities to choose which foreign language or languages they want to pursue, beginning at the start of their school journey.
Minister Walwyn said that the ultimate goal in this process is to make at least one foreign language a compulsory core subject, and a stipulation for meeting Secondary School graduation requirements in the next five years.
"Madame Speaker, our decision to add Mandarin to the current subject offerings is based on documented research which states that approximately one fifth of the world’s population speaks Mandarin, most of whom acquired the language for purposes of trade, investment, employment and education."
He added, "Madame Speaker, we are cognisant that the rudiments of this language system do not follow the traditional Romanic symbols of other world languages, which our students would have initially been introduced to during their formative language acquisition stage. "
Hence, the Minister said the proposal is that Mandarin be introduced at Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2, when students are still developing formal language skills.
Mandarin will be introduced on a phased basis as a pilot programme in selected schools; and as an extra-curricular activity, via Foreign Language Clubs at the Primary and Secondary levels.
- Source: BVIHotpress.com