I hear my old sixth form, Alton College, is teaching Mandarin for students and pupils from the age 14, in recognition of the emergence of China as the emerging world power.
Despite being deep in darkest Hampshire, Alton has always had its eyes on the big wide world beyond. Back in the 1980s, when the USSR was seen as the west's biggest rival, the college invited a speaker from the Soviet embassy to speak to the students' debating society.
I was one of a number of students who started to learn Russian at Alton, although the course was abandoned because of a lack of take-up.
But being able to communicate with the Chinese is one skill which will surely guarantee a well-paid career. Let's hope the Mandarin course brings in the dosh for Alton College as well.
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