UK opens first English-Chinese prep school

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Added On November 14, 2017

The Kensington Wade prep school is the first of its kind in western Europe, offering immersive English and Chinese education for children between the ages of 3 and 11.
 
Lifestyle went to take a closer look.
 
Despite the focus on Chinese, children of any language background are welcome.
 
Currently, there are 15 students in the prep school, studying half the day in the English classroom and the other half day in the Chinese classroom. 
 
There isn't a word of English in the Chinese classroom, as books here are in Mandarin and laid out are traditional oriental fans, scrolls and artwork. 
 
Its headmistress is Joanna Wallace, who previously ran Putney High, one of London's high-performing private schools. 
 
SOUNDBITE(ENG)JOANNA WALLACE, Headmistress, Kensington Wade Prep School
"I think China is playing an increasingly important role in the world and what we want for these children is when they grow up, be able to understand, be able to converse with the Chinese but also understand their culture as well. So, we are not just learning the language here. We are very much a bicultural school as well."
 
With fees of 17,000 pounds per year, the school also attracts an "international group of parents".
 
Wallace says the parents are mostly business people who are either working with China or understand the importance of Chinese.
 
One teacher notes how British parents used to encourage their children to learn French or Spanish, with one eye on holidays. 
 
However, now a rising number of parents are realizing the benefits that Mandarin can have on their children's future careers.
 
SOUNDBITE(CHINESE) SHARON ZHOU, Teacher, Kensington Wade Prep School
"As the parents said China is developing very fast, and they hope that their children could go to China to find business opportunities. As you can see, the parents consider things in an economic perspective, more than a language. I think the strong development of China plays an important role."
 
The school's opening comes as part of wider push by the British government to get more children speaking Chinese. 
   
In 2015, the Britain's Department for Education launched a new 10-milllion-pound initiative to expand Mandarin teaching in state schools across the country.
 
Hundreds of pupils are taking part in the program, which aims to make at least 5,000 young people fluent in Mandarin by the year 2020.