Mon, Nov 04, 2013 - Page 12 News List

In Spain, toddlers learn Chinese for future jobs

By Rorland Lloyd Parry  /  AFP, MADRID

Set up in 2011, the family-run company had 87 pupils signed up last year. This year the number surged to 235, said one of its Spanish founders, Ruben Camarero.

“It is an important language for the future,” he said. “We decided it was a language that would interest people because Spain is in an enormous economic crisis and China is drawing a lot of interest worldwide.”

In the classroom, Fu plays from her laptop the nursery rhyme known in Europe as “Frere Jacques”, sung in Mandarin in a version well-known to Chinese children.

As she repeats the names of fruit to the five toddlers, correcting their intonation, four-year-old Angela jumps around excitedly, her long brown hair whirling.

“Banana!” she yells. “Xiangjiao!”

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