Pate’s Mandarin Chinese curriculum seeks to open pupils’ eyes to a profoundly different culture and mindset. Pupils are encouraged to explore links between language learning and logical patterns, whilst discovering the unique artistic nature of the Chinese writing system. We are lucky to be an MEP school, seeing our curriculum and resources supported directly by the DfE via the IOE and Confucius Institute provision at University College London. Most students who embark upon the MEP programme start ab initio, but we do welcome individuals with previous experience of Chinese languages too. We assess students in Years 7 and 8 in relation to 3 Key Strands: Comprehension, Communication & Character formation.
The Year 7 Pate’s Mandarin curriculum design serves to give pupils a strong foundation for their Mandarin studies, starting with the building blocks of the Chinese language: radicals, strokes, tones and pinyin as a toolkit towards comprehension and communication in Mandarin Chinese. On top of timetabled lessons, there is a strong self-study and resilience ethos engendered throughout the curriculum stages, with high expectations of pupils to bolster their classroom learning with our guided support. They use their independent study hours to great effect with an array of cultural and linguistic discovery projects and rich online resources to complement learning objectives, sitting alongside regular homework tasks and assessments.
By the end of their inaugural year, pupils are able to talk and write about themselves, family and hobbies. Pupils then build upon their study habits and knowledge about Mandarin in Year 8, where they are equipped to extend their cultural capital and linguistic knowledge to be able to talk and write about school, holidays, travel, themselves in greater depth, and their local area. It is in Year 9, however, that the transactional language to serve a real purpose in the outside world comes alive on the curriculum, and pupils get additional opportunities to use their language with peers from around the country at their intensive learning event, usually hosted at a UK University.
Mandarin in Years 7, 8 and 9 provides strong foundations for studying Mandarin at GCSE with the topics, skills and grammatical content covered, and we use some HSK materials and assessments to enrich their training and measure pupil progress. Pupils then access higher GCSE examinations in the summer of Year 11, which showcase their multifaceted skills, with a particular onus on productive language: speaking and writing. We envisage that some of our Mandarin linguists beyond GCSE may access A Level, and ultimately even go on to study, work and thrive abroad, accessing authentic Chinese culture, literature and film as a whole new world opens up to them; or certainly that their language skills will see them with a competitive edge in future employment.
All year groups have the opportunity for enriched learning experiences (in non-Covid times!) including study days, Chinese celebrations, drama, dance, calligraphy, museum trips and cookery, and a highlight of the Year 9 curriculum for our MEP learners is the offer of an immersive enrichment learning experience in China, which is heavily subsidised by HANBAN and the International Office of Education at UCL.