ORDERING by number in the local Chinese restaurant will be a thing of the past for students of the new Junior Cycle course in Mandarin.
Learning how to read and understand menus in Chinese, order dishes and talk about likes or dislikes are among the skills students of the new subject will be taught.
They may even get to show off their command of the menu in an oral exam, just one of the ways it will be assessed.
New-found communication skills could also be put to the test in an oral exam shopping expedition role-play where they would be expected to display how to haggle in Chinese.
Students will learn that understanding Chinese culture is essential to effective communication in the language. There is a growing realisation that a good grasp of Mandarin is an important asset for job hunters in a global market where China is the second biggest economy.
Details of what students can expect in Chinese language and culture – one of eight short courses being rolled out by government education advisers – have been released.
These courses will be optional as part of the reform of the Junior Certificate being phased in from next September
As well as Chinese, in recent days, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) also published the specification for three other new subjects: artistic performance, digital media literacy, and caring for animals.
In artistic performance, students will engage in a range of creative activity and artistic practices. In the final assessment, 60pc of the marks will go for a journal created by individual students where they will log their learning including challenges faced , with 40pc for a final performance.
The digital media literacy course will focus on teaching students how to use digital media tools to learn, communicate, work and think collaboratively and creatively in a responsible manner.
Up to 75pc of marks will be awarded for a digital portfolio with three examples of a student's work, while the remaining 25pc will be given for a reflective piece showing an awareness of issues such as how to stay safe online.
The caring for animals short course will be available to certain special needs students and is aimed at developing a range of personal, social and practical skills in the context of learning about animal welfare.
Some weeks ago, the NCCA released details of four other short courses: computer coding, physical education, social personal and health education (SPHE) and civic social and political education (CSPE).
The NCCA has made the short course proposals available for consultation on www.ncca.ie and is inviting feedback up until December 20.
Students will have the option of taking two short courses in place of a traditional subject – up to a maximum of four short courses instead of two subjects.
As well as the eight prepared by the NCCA, schools or community/voluntary organisations can also devise short courses and put them forward for approval.