Stu­dent’s Man­darin im­presses judges

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - SHANI WIL­LIAMS

An Auck­land stu­dent has won a na­tional Chi­nese Man­darin speech com­pe­ti­tion and cred­its his suc­cess to com­pul­sory lan­guage classes.

St Peter’s Col­lege stu­dent Jamie Laing took part in New Zealand’s na­tional Man­darin speak­ing com­pe­ti­tion in Welling­ton ear­lier this month and, af­ter tak­ing out the com­pe­ti­tion, has been in­vited to com­pete in China in Oc­to­ber.

The year 11 stu­dent gave a fiveminute speech in Man­darin on the fa­mous Ter­ra­cotta Army, fol­lowed by a per­for­mance of the Chi­nese an­cient art of shut­tle­cock kick­ing.

Only stu­dents who are born out­side of China, and for whom Man­darin is not their first lan­guage, can take part in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Laing said his win was a tes­ta­ment to the strong Man­darin fo­cus at St Peter’s Col­lege - where more than half of stu­dents study Man­darin.

St Peter’s Col­lege was the first Auck­land sec­ondary school to make Man­darin com­pul­sory for years seven and eight.

‘‘St Peter’s re­ally val­ues Man­darin as the lan­guage of the fu­ture - I think this is im­por­tant con­sid­er­ing China is al­ready New Zealand’s largest trad­ing part­ner,’’ Laing said.

As­so­ciate head­mas­ter Stephen Doo­ley said par­ents were ‘‘ex­tremely sup­port­ive’’ of the pol­icy.

The school was also the first in Auck­land to have a Man­darin lan­guage class­room funded by the Chi­nese Govern­ment agency ‘‘The Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute’’.

Con­fu­cius class­rooms re­ceive fund­ing, books and teach­ing ma­te­ri­als di­rectly from the Of­fice of Chi­nese Lan­guage Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional in China.

St Peter’s Col­lege Man­darin teacher Bing­mei Zhang said un­der­stand­ing Man­darin would help New Zealan­der’s un­der­stand their new neigh­bours.

‘‘With the ar­rival of more Chi­nese im­mi­grants and in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, more par­ents and stu­dents in New Zealand think Man­darin is im­por­tant to learn so we can bridge the cul- tu­ral and lin­guis­tic gap.’’

An Asia New Zealand Foun­da­tion sur­vey, re­leased in March, found eight out of 10 peo­ple thought New Zealand stu­dents should learn a lan­guage other than English, and more than half of those chose Chi­nese ahead of te reo Maori.

SHANI WIL­LIAMS/FAIR­FAX NZ

St Peters year 11 stu­dent Jamie Laing has been learn­ing Man­darin for about five years.

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