Mandarin Chinese, as the most spoken language in the world, opens up a world of opportunity for young people; it can connect students with an exciting and dynamic culture as well as boost career opportunities. Mandarin Chinese has been identified as one of the most important languages for the UK’s future prosperity. In 2017 Crossley Heath was accepted onto the prestigious Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP). This is a government supported programme run in conjunction with the University College London, which aims to deliver a minimum of 5000 non-native speakers of Mandarin on their way to a high level of fluency by 2020. We are one of a small number of schools in the country at the forefront of delivering this exciting programme. We believe that students with a good knowledge of Mandarin will be able to set themselves apart from their peers and will have significantly improved employment and earning prospects across a range of careers. The study of Mandarin Chinese can also broaden their horizons and encourage them to step beyond familiar cultural boundaries and develop new ways of seeing the world.

In order to deliver the programme in school, there is a dedicated form group within each year specialising in the study of Mandarin as their Modern Foreign Language.  This form continues to study Mandarin as their MFL in Y8 with an expectation that they will continue to GCSE in the subject at KS4 even the possibility of A-Level. The Chinese curriculum aligns with the whole school intent, particularly in preparing students as future citizens. It also offers opportunities to explore different cultures and learn about other countries.

Teaching and Learning: a collaborative approach to teaching and learning is embedded within daily practice and future planning. The department endeavours to make learning languages fun and meaningful, providing students with many opportunities for collaboration and independent work in each lesson. We are committed to marking all students’ books every term and providing effective feedback. Students will be allocated time within lessons and homework tasks to make corrections and reflect upon their work.

Use of TL: With a skilled linguist in the department, we endeavour to challenge our students by using a high ratio of target language. It is also one of the department’s aims to encourage students to use the target language with each other in pair and group work. Both elements of using the target language ensure that pupils are hearing authentic language each time they are in the Chinese classroom.

Developing students’ creativity: We believe that becoming confident with a language is a springboard to creativity both in and out of the classroom. Within the classroom, we encourage students to take part in role play entirely in the target language, or students work independently to challenge their writing skills. Outside of the classroom, we also encourage at least one piece of MEP project work per half term, where students have the time to develop their knowledge and understanding of Chinese- even to design an impressive project.

Reflective learners: We believe where students learn is in deciding how they move on from mistakes. Within the Chinese classroom, we consistently emphasise that it is ok to make mistakes. This open environment allows students to grow in confidence with speaking a foreign language. We also provide learners with opportunities to practise on mini whiteboards allowing for mistakes to be easily corrected.

Broaden their cultural references: Providing opportunities to promote inter-cultural understanding is a vital element of language learning. We are therefore committed to ensuring that each topic contains elements of cultural reference to the target language country, from which students are able to better understand and respect these cultural differences. We also offer fantastic opportunities for the students to see the real world where the language is spoken, such as visiting China Town and the two-week intensive learning trip in China/ virtual trip to China, through which students not only immerse themselves in the language environment but learn independence through these life experiences.

Chinese at Key Stage 3

Year GroupTerm 1Term 2Term 3
7Greetings and say name
Chinese PINYIN and stroke orders
Numbers and say age
Months and say birthday
Countries and nationalities (extension)
Describe people’s personality(extension)
The classroom language

Measure word: 口、个、只、条
The use of the possessive word 的
Likes and dislikes
Give opinions and reasons
Chinese PINYIN and stroke orders
The classroom language
Revision of the hurdle tests

The use of 和、因为、但是
Question word: 谁,什么
Y7 hurdle tests
School subjects
Tell the time
Talk about the school timetable
Give opinions
Describe your school and class
Say what you can eat in the canteen.
Food and drink
Talk about 3 meals

The use of 几/几点
The position of the time phrases in sentences
8Order food and drink in a Chinese restaurant
Countries, nationalities and languages
Places and activities
means of transport
describe people’s appearance
daily routine
talk about the bedroom

the use of 了—— the past time particle
Question word: 怎么?和谁一起?什么时候?
Talk about my town
Places in town
Describe my house
Weekend plans
Talk about dream jobs
Revision of the hurdle tests

The use of 在…上/下/里
The future time marker: 要/想要
Comparison : 比(positive and negative)
Y8 hurdle tests
At the supermarket: fruits and vegetables
Chinese currency and weight
Clothes shopping at the department store
9Travel in China
My family, friends and relationship
Free time activities
The use of complex connectives: 因为…所以;虽然…但是; 不但….而且 跟….一样
Comparison 比
Free time activities
School and education
The use of 会,可以,能
The use of 过
The use of 的时候
Degree compliment 得
Resultative compliment
Y9 hurdle tests
Intensive study in China Theme 1- Panda zoo
Theme 2- school life
Theme 3- culture and heritage

Chinese GCSE Curriculum Years 10/11

The GCSE in Chinese is taught using a wide range of up-to-date resources which are designed to inspire and challenge students.  These resources provide a wealth of authentic material and ample practice in listening to, writing in, speaking and reading the target language. This is supplemented by using resources which are tailored for the MEP students by the experienced teachers and expertise; and using various online resources through the Edmodo learning platform.

Our aim is that through the rigorous teaching of essential grammar and vocabulary, students will not only succeed in the GCSE examination, but will also be able to communicate effectively in countries where the language is spoken.

Students are expected to develop their ability and ambition to communicate with native speakers in speech and writing. The study of Mandarin Chinese should also broaden their horizons and encourage them to step beyond familiar cultural boundaries and develop new ways of seeing the world.

The course covers three distinct themes. These themes apply to all four question papers.

Theme 1: Identity and culture

Topic 1: Me, my family and friends

  • Relationships with family and friends
  • Marriage/partnership

Topic 2: Technology in everyday life

  • Social media
  • Mobile technology

Topic 3: Free-time activities

  • Music
  • Cinema and TV
  • Food and eating out
  • Sport

Topic 4: Customs and festivals in French/German-speaking countries/communities

Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest

Topic 1: Home, town, neighbourhood and region

Topic 2: Social issues

  • Charity/voluntary work
  • Healthy/unhealthy living

Topic 3: Global issues

  • The environment
  • Poverty/homelessness

Topic 4: Travel and tourism

Theme 3: Current and future study and employment

Topic 1: My studies
Topic 2: Life at school/college
Topic 3: Education post-16
Topic 4: Jobs, career choices and ambitions


GCSE Mandarin Chinese has a Foundation Tier (grades 1–5) and a Higher Tier (grades 4–9). Students must take all four question papers at the same tier. All question papers must be taken in the same series.

Paper 1: Listening (25% of GCSE)
Understanding and responding to different types of spoken language.
35 minutes (Foundation Tier),
45 minutes (Higher Tier)

Paper 2: Speaking (25% of GCSE)
Communicating and interacting effectively in speech for a variety of purposes. The test comprises 3 tasks: Role-play, Photo card, General conversation
7–9 minutes (Foundation Tier) + preparation time
10–12 minutes (Higher Tier) + preparation time

Paper 3: Reading (25% of GCSE)
Understanding and responding to different types of written language. Questions in English, a translation from mandarin Chinese into English
45 minutes (Foundation Tier),
1 hour (Higher Tier)

Paper 4: Writing (25% of GCSE)
Communicating effectively in writing for a variety of purposes
1 hour (Foundation Tier),
1 hour 15 minutes (Higher Tier)
Foundation Tier –
Question 1 – write a message in Chinese (Mandarin)
Question 2 – write an approximately 30-character short passage in Chinese (Mandarin)
Question 3 – translation from English into Chinese (Mandarin), requiring a minimum of 25 words.
Question 4 – structured approximately 75-character writing task in Chinese (Mandarin)
Higher Tier –
Question 1 – structured approximately 75 characters writing task in Chinese (Mandarin)
Question 2 – open-ended 125 characters writing task in Chinese (Mandarin)
Question 3 – translation from English into Chinese (Mandarin), requiring a minimum of 40 words.

The Enhanced Curriculum

Teaching and learning is underpinned by a range of extra-curricular activities and experiences for students across Years 7-11:

  • Year 7 intensive learning day at the Leeds University.
  • Year 8 trip to Manchester China Town.
  • Year 9 two-week China trip. (Alternatively virtual China trip due to the Covid restrictions)
  • Y10 residential trip at a university in the UK. (Alternatively, 3 days online tourism campaign plus a day visit a local university)
  • The Mandarin Excellence Programme projects
  • Annual Chinese New Year Celebration
  • The national Chinese speaking competition
  • Y10 HSK3 exam to obtain an extra certificate in Chinese.

5 Year Curriculum Plan(s)

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