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Britain’s first bilingual English-Mandarin nursery in London

At just two-years-old Barclay can already say "hello", "bubbles", "wash hands" and several other words in Mandarin. Ursula, also two, can say "fish", "horse" and "more food" and her Mandarin vocabulary already stretches to more than 50 words. But this isn't Beijing or Shanghai, and neither are Barclay's or Ursula's parents Chinese.

刚刚两岁的巴克利已经能用中文说"你好"、"泡泡"、"洗手"了。而两岁的乌尔苏拉会说"鱼"、"马"、"还要吃",她所掌握的汉语词已经接近50个。然而,这里并不是北京或上海,巴克利和乌尔苏拉的父母也不是中国人。

Both children are English and this is a day care centre housed in a Welsh Presbyterian chapel in the City of London.

这两个孩子都是土生土长的英国人,这里是伦敦威尔士长老会教堂里的一家日托幼儿园。

Here is Hatching Dragons, Britain's first bilingual English-Mandarin nursery.

这里是"望子成龙"幼儿园,全英首个中英双语幼儿园。

Here children like Barclay and Ursula are just as likely to sing a Chinese nursery rhyme. Numeracy games are played with Chinese characters as well as Roman numerals and lunch includes not just sandwiches, but spring rolls and fried rice.

像巴克利和乌尔苏拉一样,幼儿园里的孩子可能会随口唱出中文歌谣。孩子们在做算数游戏时不仅会用到罗马数字,还会用到中文。幼儿园的午餐不仅有三明治,还有春卷和炒米饭。

It's what Hatching Dragon's founder Cenn John refers to as "immersive learning", enabling children to absorb all aspects of a radically different language and culture from as young as six months.

幼儿园的创建者约翰将这种教育方式称为"沉浸式学习",通过这种方式,孩子们从半岁开始就能全面接纳两种截然不同的语言文化。

Hatching Dragons, nursery in Britain, chinese language school

And it's increasingly popular with parents who want their children to grow up with a linguistic advantage over their peers – ready to take advantage of speaking the language of the world's soon to be single biggest economy.

这种教育方式愈发受到一些家长的欢迎,特别是那些希望自己孩子与同龄人相比具有语言优势的家长。他们希望通过让孩子学说中文——这个马上将成为全球最大经济体国家的语言而赢在人生的起跑线上。

"The nursery's English-speaking staff play, sing and talk with the children in English, while its Chinese staff do so in Mandarin," said Mr John, who studied Mandarin at university and went on to work as a political and education consultant in China.

"幼儿园里说英文的教职工会和孩子们用英文玩游戏、唱歌、聊天,而中国教职工则用中文与孩子们交流玩耍。"约翰说。他在大学主修中文,毕业后又到中国做政治和教育咨询方面的工作。

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He opened the nursery in May in part because he wanted his own son Aneurin, now 3, to learn the language he felt so passionate about.

今年5月,约翰开办了这家双语幼儿园,部分原因是因为他自己的儿子——3岁的安奈林能够接触到他所热爱的中文。

"I wanted my own boy to be fluent enough at an early age to be able to sustain that in later years," he said. "It's also a way of helping to break down prejudice to different cultures, in this case Chinese, by learning about them through song and language."

"我希望我的儿子能够早早的说一口流利的中文,并且在今后也不会把中文忘到脑后。"约翰说,"这也会打破人们对不同文化所抱有的偏见,在这里我们通过唱歌和说话学习中国语言文化。"

With that in mind, Hatching Dragons is aimed principally at English speaking parents who want their children to learn Mandarin as a way of preparing for a world where China's economy will be increasingly dominant.

秉承这一理念,"望子成龙"幼儿园主要针对那些说英语的家长们,他们希望自己的孩子学好中文,以迎接中国经济日渐崛起、中国成为主宰的新世界的到来。

"We have to become able to communicate with a market of 1.37 billion people," said Mr John. "Some of the children who come here may one day work in China, but more importantly they will be able to engage with the Chinese diaspora that will continue to come to Britain to study and work."

"我们得能和一个拥有13.7亿人口的市场进行交流。"约翰说。"来这里的孩子或许有朝一日会到中国工作,不过更重要的是,他们今后就能和源源不断来英学习工作的中国移民打交道了。"

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Barclay's four-year-old sister Macy is also learning Mandarin, at Hackney New Primary School, and loves joining her brother at the nursery at the end of the day.

巴克利四岁大的姐姐梅茜也在哈克尼新小学学中文。每天放学后,梅茜喜欢去幼儿园找她的弟弟。

Their father Elliott Hammer, a solicitor in east London, said: "We obviously wanted our children to have a good start in life and knowing another language is a great way of helping them achieve that.

他们的父亲埃利奥特·哈默是东伦敦的一个律师,"我们当然希望孩子能够有一个良好的开端,而学习其他语言就是帮助他们打造良好开端的绝佳方式。"

"I learnt French at school, but how many French speakers are there? It's a numbers game. China is going to be the world's largest economy. It just makes sense to learn Chinese."

"我在学校学的是法语,不过说法语的人有多少?这是一个数字游戏。中国将成为全球最大经济体,因此学中文是个明智的选择。"

The cost of sending children to Hatching Dragons starts at £350 a month for 10 hours a week, rising to £1,500 a month for full time care of 50 hours a week.

将孩子送到"望子成龙"幼儿园托管的最低费用是每月350英镑,每周约有10个小时。最高则是每月1500英镑,每周有50个小时。

That compares favourably to the cost of as much as £25 an hour charged by Mandarin speaking nannies in London. And to avoid becoming the exclusive property of top executives the nursery has opted into an 'affordability scheme' by which the children of low paid parents who live or work in the City are part subsidised by the Corporation of London.

在伦敦雇一个说中文的保姆费用高达每小时25英镑。相比较而言双语幼儿园就划算多了。而为了不让双语幼儿园成为少数人的专利,幼儿园还推出了"可承受方案",让那些工作或生活在伦敦的低收入家庭的孩子也能在津贴赞助下进入幼儿园。

Though most of the 36 children currently registered at the nursery come from English-speaking families, there are also a number of Chinese children here, whose parents want them to learn English while enjoying the linguistic comfort blanket the nursery's Mandarin speaking staff provide.

虽说目前"望子成龙"幼儿园接收的36个孩子中大部分都是来自英文家庭的孩子,这里也有一些中国孩子。他们的家长希望孩子既能在幼儿园里学到英文,又能享受到幼儿园中文员工所给予的母语安全感。

In one corner two-year-old Julien is busy counting one to 10 in Mandarin using tangerine segments, under the guidance of nursery worker Li Jing, 29, from Guang Zhou.

在幼儿园的一个角落,两岁大的朱利恩正在用橘子瓣学数中文数字一到十,29岁的辅导老师李静来自中国广州。

Julien's mother is Chinese-American and his father French-Canadian, so at home he speaks French and Cantonese, while at the nursery he speaks English and Mandarin.

朱利恩的妈妈是华裔美国人,爸爸是法裔加拿大人,所以朱利恩在家说法语和广东话,在幼儿园说英语和普通话。

Even at just a few years old the children can distinguish between the languages and know which one to use with a particular person.

即便只有几岁大,孩子也能分清不同语言,知道和不同的人讲不同的话。

Mr Hammer, 33, said: "Only recently we were at the Museum of Childhood with Barclay and he ran up to a Chinese family and said hello to them in Mandarin. He didn't know them, but he knew they were like his Chinese carers at nursery. It's just fantastic to watch."

33岁的哈默说:"就在不久前,我们带巴克利去博物馆参观,他跑到一家中国人面前用中文和他们打招呼。他并不认识他们,但他知道这家人和他的幼儿园中文老师长得很像。看到他这样真的很棒。"

2016-06-21

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