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CHN | Nov 29, 2023

Terrelonge says Jamaica to partner with China to teach Mandarin in schools

Tamoy Ashman

Tamoy Ashman / Our Today

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Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Alando Terrelonge. (JIS photo)

A partnership between the Jamaican and Chinese governments is being formulated to have Mandarin taught in primary-and -secondary-education institutions in Jamaica.

That’s according to State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alando Terrelonge, who says he is working on a proposal with Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica Chen Daojiang to bring more Mandarin teachers to Jamaican primary and high schools.

The state minister noted that as the world becomes more connected through technology, foreign languages must be viewed as more than an academic achievement. Instead, he said it should be viewed as a strategic investment in Jamaica’s human capital that will lead to increased productivity and prosperity.

He stressed that learning a foreign language at an early age will give Jamaican students a competitive edge in the job market, increasing their employability and enhancing their earning potential.

“Just last month, I assigned my special advisor Zayne Hull at the ministry to participate in a comprehensive work-study programme in China. The primary focus was to deepen our understanding of the language and culture while engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders, including educators and government officials. This strategic effort is geared towards refining and fortifying the feasibility of our proposal to engage Mandarin teachers in Jamaica,” he explained.

The junior foreign minister was making his contribution to the State of the Constituency Debate in Parliament on Tuesday.

He noted that Mandarin is the second most widely spoken language globally, with more than two billion people using the language.

Additionally, Terrelonge reiterated his call for students to learn Spanish because Jamaica resides in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to more than 450 million Spanish speakers.

“It is well-documented that bilingual individuals often exhibit enhanced cognitive abilities. They tend to have better problem-solving skills, improved memory, and a heightened capacity for multitasking. By providing our students with more opportunities to learn a foreign language, we are not only giving them
the tools to excel academically but also to become more adaptable and resilient individuals, capable of overcoming life’s challenges,” he stressed.

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