Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin ChineseThe Languages Department think differently simply by being a group of polyglots! Several theories exist about the relationship between thinking and multilingualism.

Some research suggests that as language learners we are less biased when we make decisions in a foreign language because of our greater emotional distance compared with when we use our native tongue. It has also been claimed that a nation’s thought processes are heavily influenced by the grammatical structure of the native language.

Whatever you believe, being multilingual helps with multitasking,  problem-solving, communicating and empathising. The teachers in the Languages department speak several languages and we think differently in everyone we speak!

Mandarin Chinese is one of the most useful and intriguing languages to learn today. Used not only in mainland China, but from Hong Kong to Sydney; in fact, Mandarin can be used wherever there are communities of Overseas Chinese.

Year 9

What will I learn?

Used not only in mainland China, but from Hong Kong to Sydney; in fact, Mandarin can be used wherever there are communities of Overseas Chinese. The skills learned will be useful and with Mandarin Chinese, you could even set your sights on working at the United Nations. 

There are two options available: for those who have had at least a year’s experience of Mandarin as a non-native speaker, there are two lessons each week. For those who are new to the language, or who have less than a year’s experience, there are four lessons each week. For those who continue to GCSE, over a 3-year course, pupils are taught “Putonghua” - the “common language” - or, as it is widely known, Mandarin - the official language of the People’s Republic of China.

The rudiments of reading and writing are taught, essential to understanding the foundations of Chinese culture and language. By the end of the 3 years, pupils should know about 600 basic Chinese characters and be able to read passages and write short essays. Pupils also have the opportunity to learn about the Chinese and Overseas Chinese culture, Chinese history and politics.

GCSE Years 10 and 11

What will I learn?

You will learn the necessary skills to communicate in Mandarin Chinese, the official language of the People’s Republic of China, including spoken Mandarin Chinese and the written ‘Simplified’ form of Chinese used throughout China. You also have the opportunity to learn aspects of Chinese and Overseas Chinese culture, history and politics.

How is the course structured and assessed?

Pupils are assessed in four different elements: Listening, Reading, Written and Spoken Chinese. At the end of Year 11 pupils will sit externally assessed exams in all four aspects. In line with the other European languages offered at Monkton, the course is divided into modules and topics: 

  • Identity and culture 
  • Local area, holiday and travel and education 
  • Future aspirations, study and work 
  • International and global dimension (environmental issues for example) 

Each module is subdivided into different topics and pupils study the vocabulary and grammar structures relevant to each topic. Depending on ability pupils sit either Foundation or Higher Tier. Listening, Reading and Written exams are externally assessed. 

  • Listening & Understanding - Foundation Tier 40 minutes; Higher Tier 50 minutes (25%) 
  • Reading & Understanding : Foundation Tier - 45 minutes; Higher Tier - 1 hour (25%) 
  • Writing exam: Foundation Tier 1 hour 15 mins; Higher Tier 1 hour 25 mins (25%) 
  • Speaking exam: internally conducted and externally assessed - Foundation Tier 8 - 9 minutes; Higher Tier 10-12 minutes (25%) 

*IGCSE Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin) generally offered only to native speakers

Where next?