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‘Teaching Mandarin-Chinese in the U.K. via the ‘Broadening Horizons’ Programme

The ‘Broadening Horizons’ scheme was launched in 2007, under the initiative of Graham Watson MEP (Member of European Parliament), with the aim of providing children at participating schools in the UK with a unique opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese and to explore the fascinating and vibrant culture of Taiwan. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Graham Watson’s office, the Sir Bernard Lovell School, the Ministry of Education in Taiwan and the Education Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, cultural and educational links have been forged and strengthened across the international sphere.

The project brings Taiwanese teaching assistants, training to become professionally qualified in the teaching of Mandarin Chinese as a second language, to schools in the UK. Funding for the project is from the Ministry of Education and the host schools, making it both affordable and sustainable. The ‘Broadening Horizons’ project is reciprocal, bringing benefits and opportunities to pupils, schools and language assistants.

Over the years, this pioneering scheme has gone from strength to strength, with the various teaching assistants helping to arrange all kinds of mutually-beneficial exchange activities, such as Mandarin Chinese clubs, international days, online blogs, school partnership agreements and Skype conversations with Taiwanese counterparts, in addition to their teaching duties. Upon entering the UK, the ‘Broadening Horizons’ assistants act as representatives for Taiwan; having returned to Taiwan, they are able to act as a liaison between the Taiwanese and British people, maintaining strong international links.

In our modern inter-connected world, the opportunities for alliances are endless. As the sixth year of ‘Broadening Horizons’ draws to a close, it is hoped that the scheme will continue to develop and help to promote greater co-operation between Britain and Taiwan. No doubt next year’s group of assistants will reaffirm and expand upon the successes of their predecessors and continue to “broaden horizons” with regard to Taiwan!