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On demand and with an adequate number of participants our school is offering a Chinese Course for Beginners once a week in the evening. The course is open to pupils, teachers and parents and is held by a Chinese native speaker. The course does not only concern itself with the Chinese language and written Chinese, great value is also placed in cultural peculiarities of China and the Chinese. The course participants learn what one should do in China and what one should avoid doing, in order to come across positively. Simply placing a visiting card in your pocket without reading it is looked upon as an insult by a Chinese person, while serving a Chinese guest cheese is not a particularly good idea since many cannot stand the taste. They would, however, not say anything about this, out of sheer politeness.

In the first year the emphasis is on understanding and speaking modern standard Chinese in daily life (school, family, friends, eating, drinking, shopping). The course participants also learn how to derive meaning and pronunciation from the structure of a Chinese character and they struggle to come to terms with some of the “more simple” characters. The Chinese Course serves primarily to enable the participants to think outside the box and, where our pupils are concerned, to familiarize them at a relatively young age with the Asian cultural area. In addition, it provides an opportunity to promote particularly committed and motivated pupils above and beyond the stipulations of the grammar-school curriculum.

After more than 10 years of partnership with a high school in Tianjin, a new partnership with a high school in Hangzhou has just been established (see also the report Intercultural Learning in China).