St Albans pupils’ Chinese challenge

STUDENTS from a St Albans school have taken part in X-Factor style regional heats with a Chinese twist.

Six students from Marlborough went to the London School of Economics to show off their linguistic skills in the British Council’s Chinese Mandarin Speaking Competition last month.

Jack Gentle, Connor Hickey, Ellis Allan, Yaku Stapleton and James Walsh of Year 8 and Ethan Cooper of Year 7, all took part in the group element of the competition, performing a piece of drama in Chinese.

Jack also took part in the individual category in which he gave a short presentation in Mandarin, translated sentences from English into Mandarin and was tested on his knowledge of China and Chinese culture.

He said: “I was extremely nervous before the individual competition as performing a language I have not studied for very long in front of so many people was pretty scary. Afterwards I felt so glad that I had taken part as it gave me so much confidence and this showed in my group performance later on in the competition. It was a great experience and I would love to do it again.”

The pupils are relatively new to the language and attend the 30-minute language sessions during their lunch hour once a week. It was the school’s first year in the competition and although they did not progress to the finals, their teacher Andrew Ballantine hopes that with more practise they will do even better next year.

The competition supports and promotes the teaching of Mandarin Chinese as a modern foreign language in UK schools and is in its eighth year.