The Snakes and Dragons packs encourage teachers to use the Chinese New Year celebrations, which start on 10 February, as an opportunity to explore Chinese culture. The packs include lesson and assembly plans, a DVD with films and music, and fact sheets on how to make Chinese paper lanterns and dragon puppets.
The five lesson plans cover topics including an introduction to Chinese numbers, recycling in China, and how Chinese New Year is celebrated. There are two assembly plans, looking at Chinese New Year and the Gaokao - the ‘world’s hardest school test’.
Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council and fluent Chinese speaker, said: “The UK’s future prosperity depends in no small part on our ability to communicate and build relationships with people from around the world. With China recently becoming the world’s second biggest economy – and set to continue that upward trajectory – there are few more important partners for us. A good understanding of Chinese language and culture will give our young people the advantage they need to live in a global society and compete in a global economy.”
The colourful packs have been produced with the help of the IOE Confucius Institute for Schools and sent to the 9,000 UK primaries registered with the British Council’s Schools Online site.
UK Teacher of the Year, Nathan Kemp from Tollgate Primary School in east London, said: “It’s more important than ever to help all of our young people to better understand China and to develop as global citizens – and Chinese New Year gives schools everywhere the perfect opportunity. The Snakes and Dragons pack is a really useful resource for teachers and full of fun, creative ways to bring China into the classroom. I’d encourage every school to make use of it.”
The British Council has been working with partner HSBC to promote the study of Chinese language and culture in the UK since 2000. Monday 4 February sees the 10th anniversary of the HSBC/British Council Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition, which rewards students who have made the effort to master Mandarin from scratch. The two organisations also run annual Chinese summer schools for primary school pupils at two UK locations, and support Mandarin teaching in through their Chinese Language Assistants programme – native speakers who have been coming to work in UK classrooms for the past 11 years.