Sheffield tots learning the language of trade - Mandarin

Hatfield Academy student Sana Ahmadi speaks mandarin with a chinese visitor Li Li, as the school is one of only a handful in the country which offers mandarin as a second language. Picture: Andrew Roe
Hatfield Academy student Sana Ahmadi speaks mandarin with a chinese visitor Li Li, as the school is one of only a handful in the country which offers mandarin as a second language. Picture: Andrew Roe
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It’s the language of the world’s joint fastest growing economy - and now it has come to the classrooms of Sheffield.

Mandarin is on the timetable at Hatfield Academy Primary in Sheffield Lane Top - one of just a few schools in the country to offer it as a second language.

Pupils as young as five are learning how to pronounce ‘ni hao’ - or hello - with the school’s full time Mandarin teacher Tracy Keenan.

Tracy, who has been at the school for a year and lived in Beijing for several, said: “Initially it is hard for the children to understand there is no alphabet to learn but after they get their heads round this their language learning really takes off.

“We are actually finding the younger they are the easier it is.”

Chinese dignitiaries visited the school this week.

Headteacher Charlie Blencowe said: “China is already a huge economic driver in the world and there is no doubt this will grow even more. The next generation need to be prepared and there’s no better way than being able to speak the most widely spoken Chinese language.”