Want to know how to make the most of a Chinese event at your school?

What can you achieve after just a term of teaching Mandarin Chinese at a school?

A ‘China Night’ at Dartford Grammar School (DGS) on 9 Dec 2009 was hosted and organized by John Oakes, Headmaster and Paul Tyskerud, Head of Mandarin. It was the first of its kind at DGS where Mandarin was only introduced in September 2009.

What did they do?
The programme was packed with music, drama, art, cultural presentations, Chinese daily exercise demonstrations, current affairs, debate and even a short lesson on how to order drinks during the interval!  All performances were given by DGS pupils and children from the local Wilmington Primary School. The whole evening was bilingually ‘compered’ by two of the pupils. 
The evening showcased the talents of the pupils at DGS and Wilmington Primary who have been learning Mandarin and discovering Chinese culture since the language was introduced at the schools last September. 
Some of the performances included:
•       A group singing performance byYear 7 – 我是一只小小鸟 – ‘I’m a small small bird’
•       Year 9 – Presentation on the Geography of China
•       A group of Year 8s singing– 对面的女孩看过来 – ‘The girl next door’
•       Year 12s demonstrated how to order drinks in Chinese enabling audience to then go and order their drinks in the interval.
•       Wilmington Primary School – performance of traditional Chinese morning exercises that are typically done at Chinese primary schools. They also sang the Happy Birthday song, and demonstrated the action words they have learnt (I am reading, I am swimming, I am singing).
•       Various years – music performances written and inspired by images/thoughts of China
•       Years 9&10 showed their Chinese art that was produced in an after-school club
In such a short space of time it was obvious that the pupils had responded to this new subject with much enthusiasm and showed how much an impact Chinese and China can have on a school. It also showed what can be achieved when helping primary feeders to offer Mandarin. 
What did the parents and Headteachers say?
Parents were amazed at what had been achieved in such a short space of time and for many there was obviously a great sense of pride in seeing their children perform! A short informative presentation by Dr Kerry Brown (ex-pupil of DGS and China expert at Chatham House) about the future importance of knowing about China also helped set the context and explain why so many schools like DGS have now introduced Chinese.  The Headteachers of DGS and Wilmington Primary were obviously proud of the achievement of their pupils and how Mandarin and Chinese culture had been embraced in such a short space of time. To hear what they had to say, please listen to the sound files attached.
How can I organize my own China event at my school? 
Look out for our forthcoming article about organizing Chinese events at school.