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With China’s economy booming, demand for Mandarin has risen in the UK to the extent that its first bilingual Mandarin-English nursery group has just opened its second setting, with a further two in the planning stages.
Hatching Dragons opened its first nursery in the Barbican back in 2015. However it proved to be so popular, that it has just opened another nursery in Richmond. It is also planning to open another in Westminster and one near Canary Wharf.
People in Britain are quickly realizing the value of speaking Mandarin, the language of the world’s second biggest economy. Last year, the UK’s first bilingual Mandarin-English independent school opened and the Department for Education also launched a new £10m initiative to expand Mandarin teaching in state schools across the country.
Cenn John, founder of Hatching Dragons said the nursery group’s expansion has proved London parents recognise the importance of preparing children for an increasingly global world and of nurturing greater intercultural understanding.
He said: “We have always believed in the value of a bilingual education for young children. The cognitive benefits are obvious and now well documented. And I don't think it's ever been more important to nurture intercultural understanding in our young people to show them that there is more that brings us together than drives us apart. At Hatching Dragons, both language and cultural awareness are equally important and I see it as our mission to nurture children to become better global citizens for the future."
Mr John originally set up the nursery group for his son. “I had struggled to learn Chinese throughout my twenties and after he was born, it struck me that the best gift that I could give him, and other children, would be command of a language and knowledge of a culture that might make a difference to his future at an age when it was most natural to acquire,” he revealed.
The group's two nurseries provide children with a full Mandarin-English immersion experience, with the majority of children coming from families where Mandarin is not spoken. The nurseries operate with a team of staff where half speak only English and half speak only Mandarin.
Sir Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat leader and Twickenham MP, officially opened the second nursery which is within the grounds of GEMS Primary Academy Twickenham in Richmond, calling the initiative “visionary and positive”.