Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thinking ahead

This Portuguese town is making Mandarin mandatory in schools

This Portuguese town is making Mandarin mandatory in schools
CCTVNEWS
Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish maritime trade with China. Now, 500 years later, a small town in northern Portugal is counting on its youth to secure a position in the world’s fastest-growing economy.
Sao Joao da Madeira, Portugal’s shoe-making capital, has just made Mandarin a compulsory course for its 8- and 9-year-old children.
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They expect to ensure the local shoe industry’s future by doing so, as China is becoming a potential market for their products. It only took two years for the exports of Portuguese footwear to China to soar from 10,000 pairs (2011) to 170,000 pairs (2013), reaching sales of 5.4 million Euros ($6.7 million).
There are also an increasing number of Chinese fashion gurus showing interest in Portuguese footwear, the world’s second most expensive after Italian.
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“We will need young people trained to speak Mandarin, so they can then help us in the trade.” The straightforward words from a local shoe shop manager Mario Tavares might be representative of many locals who think that learning Mandarin is the key to sustaining their businesses.
The pilot project is also aimed at providing an example for the Portuguese government, which may replicate the move throughout the whole country.
The kids appeared to quite enjoy their Mandarin courses, watch this video to find out more.

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