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Mandarin immersion in Australia

November 5, 2013

Meet the Australian children fluent in Mandarin

By Jon DonnisonBBC News, Melbourne

Five-year-old Jackie Baldwin can give her name in Mandarin

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Australia’s politicians often talk about the importance of building ties with Asia. Successive governments have promised to increase the number of schools teaching Asian languages, but in fact the number of children in high school learning Asian languages is falling. The BBC’s Jon Donnison has been to one of the country’s few bilingual schools.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor of her classroom, chewing on the end of her pen, five-year-old Jackie Baldwin is deep in thought.

Blonde haired, with pink spectacles balanced on the tip of her nose, her hand begins to move steadily and confidently across her page, leaving a neat line of Mandarin Chinese characters.

Among them I spot the letters “BBC” in the English alphabet.

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