Call for schools to make Mandarin a priority
SCHOOLS should spend less time on Irish and French -- and teach Chinese instead, an education leader said yesterday.
The teaching of Mandarin must become a priority for schools and third-level colleges, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn was told.
It could be done by diverting resources from other languages, according to the president of the Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA), Noel O'Connor.
The former teacher, from Mallow, Co Cork, told the IVEA annual conference that the global race was on for Chinese investment and Ireland was in danger of being left behind.
Later, Mr O'Connor told the Irish Independent that students learning one language often benefited from learning another language.
He said diverting some resources from other parts of the curriculum, such as Irish and French, to teach Chinese, would not mean that they would suffer as a consequence.
Mr O'Connor said Sweden was committed to teaching Chinese in all primary schools by 2021, and in all schools eventually, while it was the fastest growing language taught in the US.
He told the conference that, as a small, open economy Ireland could be transformed by Chinese investment.