A group of our Upper Sixth linguists, led by Emma K, have designed and launched a unique cultural exchange programme called the Chinese Language Music Bridge.
This is a virtual tutoring programme between Marlborough College and Guizhou Forerunner College in China, which our pupils created and piloted in the summer holiday just passed. Forerunner College is the only blind and visually impaired university in China. It has 1,500 students, 100 of which are visually impaired. Emma had been due to visit Forerunner College to help tutor some of the blind students in English when the global pandemic hit in 2020. As a result, she started to work on this unique programme in which tutoring can happen virtually.
In collaboration with teachers at the faculty at Forerunner College, it was decided that the most efficient way to do the online tutoring would be by recording and sending music videos back and forth, over a five-week period. For those with visual impairment, music can be an immensely powerful learning aid. At the end of the fifth week, there was a virtual performance to showcase the language skills learned by both groups: the Chinese students performed songs in English and the Marlburians performed traditional Chinese songs.
Emma said: ‘I knew that the blind and visually impaired students loved music, and therefore we chose to add a musical element to the lessons. Music is a common language that can be easily taught to students from both schools, and it is a great way to make a connection. I think that our Chinese language skills have improved as well as the fluency of our speaking. Not to mention that being able to teach blind students was an incredible chance to develop some new skills. Of course, I would have preferred to go in person but in these difficult times we need to be creative. I think that cultivating online friendships as well as learning a new skill was the next best thing.’
This is an amazing programme and all the Upper Sixth pupils involved deserve great praise: Emma K, Daisy P, Naomi H, Tomos L, Chris R and Donald C.
Now the programme has been created and piloted with such success, it is planned to run it again and, if possible, to involve other UK schools in widening the initiative.