Chinese Takeover? Ditch French and German lessons for Mandarin, says David Cameron as his visit to China draws to a close

PM announces language plan for UK schools on last day of China trip

David Cameron has thrown his weight behind efforts to prioritise the teaching of Mandarin in UK schools.

The Prime Minister, speaking on the last leg of his visit to China, urged them to “look beyond the traditional focus on French and German and get many more children learning Mandarin”.

His comments follow a report by the British Council late last month which put Mandarin Chinese in the top five of the ten most important languages that should be taught in UK schools. It was given second place ahead of French and German - and behind only Spanish.

Yet the report acknowledged that only per cent of people in Britain are fluent enough to conduct a conversation in the language.

As the Prime Minister ended his visit, it emerged agreement had been reached between the British Council and the Hanban (the Chinese national office for the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language) to double the number of Chinese language assistants in the UK by 2016 - with a view to also doubling the number of pupils learning the language to 400,000.

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