Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese

Head of Department – Mrs V.K. Allen

Examination Board: AQA

China is the fourth largest country in the world with the largest population. Mandarin is taught in schools and it is the official language of mainland China. The Chinese language not only gives an insight into the people of China but also their history and culture.

The grammar used at GCSE is similar in many ways to English. Whether students like patterns or cracking codes, or enjoy the beauty of the script, the characters offer an opportunity to stretch the brain!


Within GCSE the essential elements of language study involve the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

The two-year course to GCSE focuses on revision of previously-learnt language, and the extension of language skills with more vocabulary and grammatical structures, enabling the student by the end of the course to be able to express themselves in a variety of situations and contexts, and in a variety of tenses.


Two pieces of homework per week will be set, usually one written and one learning (vocabulary or grammar). Vital to examination success is a thorough knowledge of the vocabulary, which the Board defines in its syllabus. Language tasks enable students to prepare themselves effectively for the written and oral parts of the examination.


A process of continual assessment takes place by means of class and homework tasks. Over the course of the two years, pupils also complete formal writing tasks and speaking tasks.

These are graded in school and the best two of each skill will be submitted to the Exam Board where they will be graded by examiners, and will be worth 60% of the final GCSE grade, 30% for the speaking, 30% for the writing.

The pupils will also take practice ‘mock’ examinations in Listening and Reading at the end of Year 10, and again in December of Year 11.

The real Listening and Reading exams are in June of Year 11, and are worth 40% of the final grade 20% for each skill. In consultation with students and their parents, teachers decide which tiers of entry to recommend for each student for these two skills.

While most students will enter for the Higher Tier examinations, it is possible for some individual students to enter for papers at Foundation Tier.


Every year there is a two-week Mandarin Immersion course which is run by Hanban and the IOE Confucius Institute. The next course will be in the summer of 2014. Students attend lessons in the morning and participate in cultural activities in the afternoon. Letters with further details will be distributed nearer the time.


There are over 1.3 billion native speakers of Mandarin in China alone. Mandarin is one of the official UN languages, and business opportunities are constantly growing. China’s Gross Domestic Product has grown at least 7% each year since 2002, even through the recession, making it a key market with which British businesses can trade.

No-one can deny that learning Chinese is a challenge, but it is one well worth taking!

Additional Links


Key Stage 3 Chinese


Key Stage 4 Chinese