Mandarin Chinese GCSE

Mandarin Chinese GCSE

Chinese is the world’s most prevalent language. Knowledge of this fascinating language will place you one step ahead, at a time when China is at the forefront of the global economy.

Why St Mary's

Our teachers are passionate about the Chinese language and culture.

Building on the language skills developed in Key Stage 3, you will learn in small classes, with access to all the support you require to reach your full potential at GCSE level. We use innovative, engaging learning methods, including the iPad and Chromebook – to make exploring this fascinating language engaging and collaborative.

Our enriched learning opportunities can include:

  • China cultural trip (2018)
  • Additional teacher surgeries for extra support

Course overview

The syllabus content is organised around five broad themes, which provide contexts for the acquisition of vocabulary and the study of grammar and structure:

  • Identity and culture
  • Local area, holiday and travel
  • School
  • Future aspirations, study and work
  • International and global dimension

All students take the following four examinations:

  • Paper 1 Listening and understanding in Chinese
  • Paper 2 Speaking in Chinese
  • Paper 3 Reading and understanding in Chinese
  • Paper 4 Writing in Chinese


All students take the following four examinations, each worth 25% of the final grade:

  • Paper 1 Listening: Students are assessed on their understanding of spoken Chinese. Foundation Tier assessment is 35 minutes and Higher Tier assessment is 45 minutes.
  • Paper 2 Speaking: Students are assessed on their ability to communicate and interact effectively through speaking Chinese. The assessment covers three core tasks: role play, a picture-based task and conversation.
  • Paper 3 Reading: Students are assessed on their understanding of written Chinese across a range of different text types, including advertisements, emails, letters, articles and literary texts. Foundation Tier assessment is 50 minutes. Higher Tier assessment is 1 hour and 5 minutes.
  • Paper 4 Writing: Students produce various responses of varying lengths to express facts, opinions and ideas in Chinese. Foundation Tier assessment is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Higher Tier assessment is 1 hour and 25 minutes.

The listening, reading and writing skills are assessed at the end of Year 11 as external examinations. The speaking skills are assessed in the Summer Term of Year 11. There is no controlled assessment in this subject.

At a glance
  • Syllabus: Edexcel GCSE Chinese (9-1)
  • Build on skills gained in Key Stage 3
  • 5 engaging themes
  • 4 examinations
  • Subject-specialist teachers
You will enjoy this course if you ...
  • Have good attention to detail
  • Like thinking analytically
  • Enjoy discussing a range of topics
  • Are interested in Chinese language and culture

What our teachers say...

“I studied language and education as my undergraduate and postgraduate subject. Learning foreign languages allowed me to better understand different cultures and appreciate diversity. I believe mastering an Asian language, especially Chinese, offers students a key to a different world and helps them to become more critical, agile thinkers – skills that are essential to survive in our highly competitive era.”

One fifth of the planet speaks Chinese, and Mandarin Chinese is the mother tongue of over 873 million people.

China has the second largest economy in the world and will play a critical role in shaping the future of humanity in the 21st century. Studying Chinese opens up a rich and fascinating world of Chinese civilisation – full of poetry and stories, as well as politics and history.

Being able to collaborate and communicate with Chinese colleagues, in all fields – from engineering and science, through to law, business and politics – will give you the edge when it comes to moving your career, and perhaps the world, forward in the future.

You could choose to continue studying Chinese language or culture at university level, or pursue a complementary subject such as international business, economics, law, politics, psychology, and tourism.

Typically, studying Chinese opens up opportunities to work in business, education, translation or interpretation, international companies, journalism, law, tourism, politics and public relations.

Our results

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Beyond St Mary's

Our Senior School students go on to pursue exciting futures.

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