Mr. Tom Canning,
Head Teacher Emma O'Connor,
Professor Xu Yinong,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a real delight to join you at the launch of the Confucius Classroom in Tollgate Primary School. On behalf of my husband, ambassador Liu Xiaoming to the UK, let me begin by extending my warmest congratulations. Welcome to the family of Confucius Classrooms in the UK and become its 161st member!
Language is important in communication and exchanges. Chinese and English are the two most widely spoken languages in the world.
In China, there are about 300 million people learning English, and many primary schools are offering English course.
Here in Britain, more and more primary and middle school pupils are learning Chinese. Even in Yell, one of the Isles of Shetland Island in the farthest north of Scotland, where the population is less than a thousand, there is a Confucius Classroom. I remember vividly the launch of that Confucius Classroom in May 2018. My husband Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and I made two flights connections before taking a ferry boat to arrive at Shetland Island, and from there we were driven in a car to Yell Isle and launched a Confucius Classroom in Mid Yell Junior High School.
People may ask why we went there and why there is a Confucius Classroom there. The story is the headmaster wrote a letter to my husband saying that he visited China a year ago and found that China was so dynamic, and he believed that China represents the future and the 21st century belongs to China. One, who has command of the Chinese language will have a key to the future. He hopes pupils from his school could learn Chinese and seize the future.
There are now 30 Confucius Institutes and 161 Confucius Classrooms here in Britain, offering Chinese language course to more than 190,000 people. Britain has more Confucius Institutes, more Confucius Classrooms and more people learning the Chinese language than any other European country.
Language is a vehicle of culture. It is the basic element of a nation and a culture. At the Confucius Classroom in Tollgate Primary School, you will not only learn the Chinese language. Through the language, you will learn more about the Chinese civilization, about its ancient charm and youthful vitality. You will also learn more about the Chinese people.
You are best positioned to understand the stories of both Mulan and Alice, and appreciate the charm of both Chinese and British culture. I hope you will become little ambassadors for China-UK friendship!
Moreover, you will also have the opportunity to learn traditional Chinese arts such as calligraphy, martial art, music and dance. I am sure this Confucius Classroom will give you a most unique and enjoyable experience.
In conclusion, I wish all the pupils will enjoy school life and grow up to be well-rounded citizens! And I wish the Confucius Classroom in Tollgate Primary School success!