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A significant career boost?
In the last couple of decades, China has risen to become one of the most powerful nations in the world. Many academics, such as International Relations specialists and Historians alike, believe that a turn away from America and towards China is on the horizon for Europe, while China’s increasing global power is already strongly felt in Eastern and South-eastern Asian countries.
As a result, increasing value is being placed on Mandarin Chinese-speaking skills – recently, over three-quarters of UK business leaders stated that they believed school leavers with a high-level of Mandarin proficiency would receive a “significant” career boost, according to a survey conducted by the Mandarin Excellence Programme. This is due not only to the huge economic and political opportunities offered by a pivot towards China (especially post-Brexit), but an apparent dearth in fluent Mandarin speakers within the UK workforce.
Outside of business and politics, studying Mandarin opens up the opportunity to gain insight into a country with a rich, long history and an exciting cultural output. Why was the Terracotta Army built? Who was Confucius, and why were his works so influential? What exactly was the Cultural Revolution? — China is a fascinating place, and learning Mandarin is a good place to start!
The effect of all of this can really be seen in schools - last year, 3,334 students took Mandarin at A Level, compared to 3,058 who took German. Entries for Mandarin have increased by 8.6% since 2017, while entries for other languages have declined by 16.5%. It looks like taking up Mandarin really is in vogue!
At GCSE level, the AQA syllabus focuses on expanding students' cultural knowledge as well as their language skills. AQA’s syllabus exams the students’ listening, reading, writing and speaking abilities in Mandarin, and covers three main themes:
Identity and Culture - this covers family and friends, technology in everyday life and leisure time activities.
Local, national, international and global areas of interest - this covers social issues, global issues and travel and tourism.
Current and future study and employment - this covers life at school, education post-16 and jobs/career options.
As a result, students covering the AQA syllabus will learn how to express themselves using vocabulary which is useful in everyday life, and be able to apply it to the world around them. For anyone planning to study the AQA syllabus, the specification (including a vocabulary and grammar points list) can be found here.
The Edexcel GCSE syllabus is fairly similar to AQA, in that it is examined over the same four skill areas (reading, writing, listening, speaking) which are assessed by examination at the end of the course. The subject areas covered by Edexcel are quite similar, but are classified differently:
Identity and Cultre
Local Area, Holiday and Travel
Future Aspirations, Study and Work
International and Global Dimensions
All of the topics covered by Edexcel must be studied in the context of both the student’s home country and that of countries and communities where Chinese is spoken, meaning that students will be able to understand the similarities and differences between their own cultures and that of Chinese-speaking regions. Students will be introduced to materials such as letters, short stories, novels and plays to build their comprehension abilities and cultural-knowledge.
Should students want to progress to A Level, Edexcel offers students the chance to improve their core language skills, and is offered in either Traditional or Simplified Chinese. The main topics are as follows:
“Changes in contemporary Chinese society”
“The evolution of Chinese society”
“The impact of reform and opening up [to the West] on China”
The course has three papers:
Reading, listening and translation
Written response to a text (a 2 hour 40 minute exam where the student must carry out a translation, write a response to a text the student has read previously, and then write a translation on a film they’ve studied in class)
Speaking (a discussion on a theme from the specification, followed by an independent presentation on research conducted by the student, which is then wrapped up with a discussion on said research.)
At A Level, students’ language abilities are really put to the test, so anyone leaving school with a decent grade in A Level Mandarin should indeed have the skills which the Mandarin Excellence Programme showed are valued so highly.
If Mandarin is piquing your interest, why not give it a go? And if you’re looking for some help, why not give us a shout and get some guidance from one of our expert Mandarin tutors?
We offer Mandarin Chinese tutoring at a wide variety of levels, from young learners to older learners (GCSE, IGCSE, A Level, IB, Pre-U, etc.) and even to adult learners (those doing undergraduates or Masters courses, or learning just for fun).
Our qualified Mandarin Chinese tutors have been hand-picked by teaching experts (our longest-standing, most successful tutors, some of whom are PGCE qualified teachers) in our thorough selection process.
We offer five varied Mandarin Chinese tuition rates to suit all budgets, with prices depending on the tutors' qualifications and their total number of hours of private tuition or classroom teaching experience.
Let us find you a Chinese tutor to inspire you and get you back on track! Contact us today.