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Chinese economic growth leads toddlers to learn Mandarin
Children as young as two years old are being taught to speak Mandarin at a nursery.
Little Learners, based in Loose, Maidstone, is providing Chinese language tuition to 17 children aged between two and five.
Manager Hayley Oliver said the choice of language was based on the growing need for Chinese speakers from the western world combined with an interesting and vibrant culture.
"China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and will play a big part in the future lives of our children," she said.
"Many schools offer German, French or Spanish, but we feel Mandarin has a lot to offer.
"It''s important for children to speak a second language and the younger they start, the easier it is to pick up. At nursery age children''s brains are like a sponge, ready to soak everything up."
A native Mandarin speaker visits the nursery for two hours each week, making use of an array of visual props and aids to stimulate the children''s interest.
Mrs Oliver said: "We use all sorts of visual aids including posters, teddies, books and an abacus to help them to learn to count."
According to Mrs Oliver, most of the children already have the basics including counting to six and saying ''hello'' and ''goodbye''.
The nursery has also embraced the Chinese culture, celebrating New Year and the country''s zodiac system, which relates each year to an animal.
Mrs Oliver, a former teacher, says the lessons will prove invaluable to the children when they progress through the New Line Learning Academy, which features Mandarin on its teaching syllabus.
China is now home to one of the world''s most important economies and more people speak Chinese than any other language in the world.
(Source from kentnews.co.uk)