A true story for you. This summer, I attempted to recruit a Mandarin teacher for a school in a town near Edinburgh. It was about 30 minutes by train from the city, so an easy commute for someone living in the city. I had one candidate get in touch. Unfortunately, I was looking for someone with a teaching qualification and the candidate didn’t have one. I had to tell the school I had been unable to find anyone suitable.
In the early days of Little Dragons, I employed anyone with Mandarin and an engaging personality. Sometimes, this worked out well. Admittedly, sometimes it didn’t. So many times, I couldn’t find anyone who I was happy to employ under the Little Dragons banner, particularly in rural areas. As the story above shows, even in a major city like Edinburgh, there aren’t many qualified Mandarin teachers around.
At the moment, we have a great shortage of Qualified Mandarin teachers. I believe that there are currently around 5 QTS Primary school teachers with Mandarin in the whole of the UK. I know most of them. This is important because kids need to start learning a second language as early as possible to have the best chance of nailing the accent and becoming really fluent. You know all those Dutch and Scandinavian kids with amazing English – they all started young.
There are more Mandarin teachers slowly trickling through the training system, but demand already outstrips supply and it will be a long time before we have enough great Mandarin teachers. When I met David Jones, a primary QT with Mandarin, we started chatting about how we would both like to see high quality Mandarin lessons available to any family for a modest price and regardless of location. As a direct result of that conversation, we joined forces to create the Little Dragons online Mandarin For Kids course. Now, our shared aspiration is a reality, whether you are in Edinburgh, rural Gloucestershire, or even further afield. Australian outback? Saskatchewan? Botswana? No problem.