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Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 10th July 2013.

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Photo of Frank Roy Frank Roy Labour, Motherwell and Wishaw

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many London-based staff in his Department have (a) been offered and (b) taken up training in the Mandarin language.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The information is as follows:

(a) This Government is committed to strengthening language skills across the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). As part of our commitment to Diplomatic Excellence, all FCO staff are offered opportunities to learn languages, including Mandarin. Staff appointed to 'speaker slots' are offered full time language training to ensure they achieve the necessary levels of language skills to best deliver HMG's priorities overseas. In addition, e-learning opportunities are available to all staff, and those in London can also apply to join lunchtime and after work classes in Mandarin and a range of other priority languages. To help support this commitment the FCO will open a new Language Centre later this summer.

(b) In the past 12 months, 31 staff have undergone full-time Mandarin language training in preparation for their postings to the region. This includes 20 staff currently in full-time language training either in the UK or overseas. In addition, 40 staff are undertaking part-time developmental language training in Mandarin and 59 more are using our e-learning package to learn Mandarin.

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