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In an exciting and futuristic development Galway Senator Fidelma Healy Eames has confirmed that twenty one schools across Galway city and county commence teaching Chinese language and culture classes beginning this week.

‘A mix of primary and second-level schools have committed to teaching Chinese language and culture for twelve weeks this term and twelve weeks next term. This development began with our setting up of the China-Ireland project one and a half years ago. Since then we have developed a positive working relationship with the Confucius Institute in UCC. Two Chinese native teachers will spend three days each week working with out Galway students. We started out with three schools, it developed into seven schools and now it has grown into 21 schools. Logistically we are capping it out at that level for now. We have five clusters of schools in Galway spanning Galway city and Barna, Oranmore, Athenry, Tuam, Clarinbridge and South Galway schools.

The excitement and interest is palpable amongst the teachers and students. Primary schools choose to do Chinese with their senior classes while second-level schools are offering it to Transition year and First years in some cases. In the case of one school the students come into school as early as 8.10am to learn Chinese before their normal classes start!

This is a unique offering for students. Next Sept 2014 Chinese language and culture will be offered on the curriculum as a short 100 hour course for the first time ever at Junior Cert level. By starting now this gives the students a head start. The overall aim is to give our kids a future edge. As a nation we have to look outward. By building a critical mass of Chinese speakers in Galway we will create an attractive hub for Chinese-related business in time.

Last Easter 18 of our Galway Transition year students travelled to Shanghai University for a two week Easter language and culture camp.

NUIG is also keen to support the Galway schools offering Chinese. This is most welcome.

There has been a lot of work organising and communicating w/ the various schools involved. I am particularly grateful to the lead teachers and principals in the respective schools and to my office assistant for working closely to ensure the delivery of this project.