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Lincoln High School

Lincoln High School has been teaching Chinese for nearly 20 years.

Despite low numbers of students learning the language at times, Lincoln has maintained its commitment to teaching Chinese and undertakes a range of strategies to integrate Chinese language within the school.

Commiting to Chinese language learning

Principal Linda Tame strongly supports the Chinese programme at the school. “It's obvious that Chinese language is an important and fantastic language to learn. Our students do so well learning it.”

She says that the reason for Lincoln’s commitment to the Chinese programme is simple. “At a Board and leadership level, we're really clear that Asia is important for New Zealand, that China is an area of growth, and that learning Chinese is key for our shared future. Our Chinese language programme is about preparing our students for the future.”

Developing a supportive school climate

A feature of Lincoln is its commitment to developing Asia Awareness within the school. Lincoln’s Board of Trustees has made becoming an Asia Aware school one of its strategic goals.

“This focus was a very deliberate and conscious decision for the Board. It really reflected the importance of ensuring our students are prepared for the future. It’s partly so our students are prepared for the opportunities that Asia will present, but it’s also about ensuring they’re not disadvantaged by not having those skills and knowledge.”

The adoption of this strategic goal is having an impact throughout the school. When it recently developed its school values, Lincoln linked them to its Asia Aware goals. “When we developed our values, we ensured we linked them to our key goals. One of our key school values is about accepting people, including their culture.”

This is one way in which the overall school context can help support Chinese language programmes, and Asia-awareness more generally.

Developing meaningful engagement

The adoption of this strategic goal has encouraged the school to step back and review the activities it undertakes.

“Our focus on Asia awareness has encouraged us to look at providing a range of ways, and deeper ways, for students to engage. We're trying to increase the depth of engagement that our students have.”

A key activity is through a review of the curriculum. “I've encouraged our Heads of Departments to think about the contexts they are providing in lessons.”

Teams of teachers have decided to gradually work through the curriculum areas to provide learning contexts relevant to Asia. “This year the social studies team has introduced China as a context for Year 9 social studies. The commerce, IT and arts teams are also beginning to look into what context they're providing within their curriculum. And we're helped by an array of user-friendly resources from Asia New Zealand.”

Providing alternative pathways into Chinese

To increase the number of students learning Chinese, Lincoln has also developed a number of pathways by which students can enter into the Chinese language programme.

Lincoln has traditionally offered a Year 11 extension class which provides students with the opportunity to study an extra subject option.

“This year we've provided our Year 11 students with the opportunity to join the Year 9 Chinese language class instead of doing another NCEA subject. This provides students another chance to begin learning Mandarin when they may otherwise have missed out by not choosing it at Year 9. And since this extension class is not being assessed at NCEA level, they're not being penalised for picking it up later.”

This pathway has already been taken up by some students and Lincoln expects more will follow in future years.

Strong platform for future growth

The creation of an Asia-aware and responsive school community is setting the scene for a strong platform for the future growth and development of the Chinese language programme.

“It's about ensuring that activities aren't being undertaken in isolation and are in fact being supported by the overall school community. I'm really positive about the future prospects for the programme.”


  • Focus on meaningful engagement. Review your activities to ensure that students have the opportunity to participate in a range of meaningful and deeper ways.
  • Develop a supportive school community. Review broader curriculum and school policy contexts to ensure that they support your goals for language and broader awareness.
  • Develop multiple pathways into language programmes. Consider providing a variety of avenues for students to learn Chinese, such as through extension class options.

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