Mandarin becomes the fastest growing language in NZ schools.

Chinese is becoming the fastest growing language studied in New Zealand; according to Tony Browne, Chair, Confucius Institute, Victoria University, Wellington.lantern_festival_2014_teapot

MLA program is managed by the three Confucius Institutes across the country, at Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

The MLA programme, which has provided important support over the last four years for the teaching of Mandarin language in schools, has this year included the Universities of Waikato and Otago and next year will be introduced also at the University of Auckland itself. To find out more about the Confucius Institute MLA click here

Last year’s group of 24 Mandarin Language Assistants – 12 sponsored by the Ministries of Education in New Zealand and in China and 12 sponsored by the Confucius Institute –  contributed to the Chinese language programmes in 81 schools around New Zealand (up from 44 in 2011). In addition  there were four Teaching Assistants supported by both the Confucius Institute and the Office of the Chinese Language Council (Hanban). Established in 2007, the Confucius Institute in Auckland is a world-class institution dedicated to enhancing understanding between China and New Zealand.

” We have MLA’s working in schools from Northland right down to the bottom of the South Island. They’re here because Mandarin is the fastest growing language in New Zealand.”

It’s a program that allows native Mandarin speakers to come and work in schools throughout New Zealand no matter where. Each MLA went through a rigorous selection process to come here but it is a two way cultural exchange.  Each MLA will be billeted in a home-stay to experience a grass roots lifestyle.

“We don’t want them to come here simply as evangelists for Chinese Culture. We expect them to learn about New Zealand and go back richer for that experience.”

The role of a Mandarin Language Assistant is to help teach Chinese in the classroom more effectively, provide insight into Chinese culture and language, and help teach students accurate pronunciation and intonation.

MLA, Wang Yini with her class in AucklandMLA, Wang Yini with her class in Auckland

The assistants live with families from the school community and work with the teachers in their classrooms.  They may be assigned to several schools during their year in New Zealand.

Read Blog by 2012 MLA Song Jiao who is at Newmarket Primary School in Auckland

Now in their fourth year of hosting the programme, the Director of the Confucius Institute at Victoria University, Wellington Wen Chin Powles explains that the MLA’s are all university graduates and volunteers choosing to come here. Click here to read a full article and listen to the RNZ interview on Monday 13 April 2015, with Lynda Chanwai-Earle

One MLZ volunteer had a wonderful quote to sum up her experience in NZ. In China we say: ‘A little body often harbours a great soul!’ And New Zealand has a great soul.”