Chinese is just one of many courses on offer in the Adult Education programme at St Tiernan's Community School, Ballally, Dublin 16. The school runs a range of evening classes, covering new skills, accredited qualifications, hobbies, and fitness.
Arnold Guo is the tutor charged with teaching Mandarin to participants. “I came to Ireland in 1997 and pursued a Master’s in marketing in Dublin City University. I’ve worked in different industries since then and have taught Chinese along the way. A year ago, I contacted Ronan Conneely, the Adult Education Director in St Tiernan’s about teaching Chinese there.”
Lots of reasons to learn
Today, Beginners and Intermediate Chinese classes are held online on Tuesday evenings and classes also run on Saturdays. “People come to the classes for different reasons. Some are business people who are doing business in China, other may had a holiday booked in China. For others, they may have a parent, a friend, or partner who is Chinese and they want to learn how to communicate in Chinese.
Focus on spoken Mandarin
“At the start, the focus is on spoken Mandarin. The Chinese writing system is complex and we teach that in the second year for those who want to learn more. There are tens of thousands of characters in Chinese writing, but there are 3,000 that are most commonly used. However, we would only expect our students to learn between 100-300 characters! You have to be really committed to learn written Chinese – in China, we spend 10 years learning to write, from primary to secondary school.”
Leaving Cert subject
Interestingly, Mandarin Chinese has been added to the subjects on the Leaving Cert, with the first exams in 2022. This was introduced in the Government’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026. It is part of a Government drive to boost language skills and to facilitate school leavers and graduates to be able to work in a global economy.
Arnold was one of those involved in co-ordinating Chinese language schools to approach the Department of Education with an offer to assist in teaching Chinese. “We’ve been in touch to offer our help and we’re looking for an opportunity to work together.”
Other night classes
Other night classes on offer in St Tiernan’s Community School include Acting, Guitar, Ukulele, Creative Writing, Yoga, Bridge, Art, Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish, Photography, Typing, Pilates, and Pole Fitness, among others. QQI awards in Childcare and Personal and Professional Development are also available.