Teenagers at a Morpeth school have enjoyed learning more about a major world country and getting to grips with its language.
A group of students ranging from Years 9 to 13 are benefiting from a scheme run by the Confucius Institute at Newcastle University, which aims to build closer academic, cultural and social ties between the North East and China.
Staff at the institute work closely with schools and to date have delivered taster sessions at more than 10 schools in the region, including King Edward VI School.
And the participating KEVI pupils recently took part in weekly after-school sessions with teacher Qiang Xingdi that gave them an introduction to the Mandarin language and Chinese culture.
They have been awarded certificates of achievement from the institute and despite learning Mandarin from scratch, they will sit an exam later this year and are looking forward to teaching commencing again.
The pupils include Year 13 student Sarah Heywood, Year 10s Adam Blower and Jamie Carr, and Year 9 students Philippa Wellden, Morgan Brown, Helena Marley, Stephanie Cartledge and Caitlin Gallon-Young.
Adam said: “I have always had an interest in Chinese culture and this course has been a great way to teach me all about it. I have learned so much.”
Confucius institutes are worldwide non-profit public institutions designed by the Chinese government to promote its language and culture through teaching initiatives and cultural exchanges.
Launched in 2013, the one at Newcastle University is the first in the North East.
Student Voice, leadership and enrichment co-ordinator at KEVI, Victoria Najafi, said: “Many thanks to Andrea Freeman of the Confucius Institute at Newcastle University for helping to arrange such a memorable experience for the students and Qiang Xingdi for her weekly enthusiasm, which has certainly made a significant impression on them.”