Young children are to learn Mandarin through a programme which is being extended to primary schools for the first time.

An extra 21 Confucius Classrooms are being created in Scotland to teach primary pupils Mandarin and boost their language skills.

The classrooms support Scotland's 1+2 languages policy, which aims to allow every child the opportunity to learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue by 2020.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the expansion in Beijing while meeting 80 Scottish school pupils benefiting from a summer learning exchange programme in China.

She said: "We want our young people to be better prepared for life and work in a multi-cultural, global marketplace and Mandarin is one of the world's most widely spoken languages.

"Evidence shows that early language learning improves literacy and that young children learn languages more easily.

"Extending the Confucius Classroom learning programme to primary schools will improve language learning opportunities to more Scottish pupils, in addition to the 20,000 who already benefit.

"We now have this golden opportunity to make a difference in further improving how language skills are offered and delivered to our young people.

"I am determined to give all of our young people every opportunity to improve their language and literacy skills and raise attainment for every child in Scotland."

Currently over 200 schools and 20,000 school children across Scotland learn about China and its language.

This includes those who learn through the 14 Confucius Classrooms in secondary schools across 18 Scottish local authorities.

The Hanban, which promotes Chinese language and learning, will provide additional funding to extend the programme and will also offer Local Authorities help to partially fund an extra six Mandarin teaching posts across Scotland.

On the first day of her official visit to China, the First Minister also observed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the University of Glasgow and Nankai University, one of China's top research universities.

The universities' Joint Graduate School, which will open its doors next month, is the first postgraduate higher education programme to be set up on a Chinese university campus in partnership with a UK institution.

She said: "This partnership between the University of Glasgow and Nankai University, the first of its kind in the UK, is fantastic recognition of the international standing of Scotland's university sector.

"Giving postgraduate students the opportunity to be taught by some of the leading academics in their field from both countries will provide a gateway to new sources of research and business opportunities."

Professor Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: "This is one of the first ever joint graduate schools on a Chinese campus in partnership with a foreign university to be approved by the Ministry of Education in China and we will work hard to ensure that it delivers both economic and educational benefits to the postgraduates who attend in this and forthcoming years."