Enrolment of learning Chinese in New Zealand’s schools hits a new high level

According to the statistics recently released by the Ministry of Education of New Zealand, enrolments of students learning Chinese at primary school (year 1 to year 8) has reached  52,669 (July 2016). This represents an increase of more than 60% over the 2015 figure of 32,896.  Since 2015 Chinese has become the most popular foreign language taught in New Zealand primary schools, overtaking French, which has been the dominant language for many years.  

There is a similar trend emerging in secondary schools however, the growth is much smaller. Statistics show that up to July 2016 enrolments were 4752, an increase of 436 students compared to 2015, reflecting growth of 10.1%. There are more students learning Chinese than German but numbers are small lower than those students learning French, Spanish and Japanese. Despite larger numbers of students enrolled in French, Spanish and Japanese there is a trend showing a decline in students studying languages.

There are three CIs in New Zealand based on Auckland, Victoria and Canterbury universities respectively. Confucius Institute at Auckland University was established in 2007, with Canterbury established in 2009 and Victoria University in 2010. With support from Hanban (the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing), schools in New Zealand who have are interested in teaching Chinese language and culture can apply for a Mandarin Language Assistant (MLA) to be placed in their schools. The number of MLAs has grown rapidly since 2010.  In 2017, 147 MLAs are being deployed to more than 400 schools throughout New Zealand. The MLAs have the responsibility of supporting and developing language learning programmes in collaborate with New Zealand teachers.  

(by Yezhu Zhao)