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The lure of the Orient

One billion Chinese people cannot be wrong. With the country wielding increasing global power in business and politics, speaking its languages is becoming crucial.

From September, the Chinese Overseas Movement of Advanced Culture, a charity representing the Chinese educational bureau in Britain, will supply volunteer tutors of Mandarin to schools for up to 22 hours a week. Smaller schools can team up to help cover the tutors' accommodation costs.

Last month, the Government lifted the requirement for all schools to offer pupils a European language, encouraging them to teach other languages that will be useful in the future, such as Mandarin and Urdu.

The Chinese scheme coincides with a warning from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority that most secondary schools received no information from primary schools about Year 7 pupils' language skills. This is despite the fact that 70 per cent of primaries now offer a language.

Isabella Moore, the director of the National Centre for Languages, said:

"There is no formal assessment system. It's one reason why primary languages haven't taken off."

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