Mandarin Chinese IGCSE

Mandarin Chinese IGCSE

Chinese is the world’s most prevalent language, with one trillion native speakers and as an official language in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. 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 subject-specialist teachers are graduates of the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and are passionate about the Chinese language and culture. We are the only school in Cambridge to offer Mandarin Chinese from Key Stage 3 onwards.

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 IGCSE 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 topic areas which provide contexts for the acquisition of vocabulary and the study of grammar and structure. The topic areas are:

  • Area A: Everyday activities
  • Area B: Personal and social life
  • Area C: The world around us
  • Area D: The world of work
  • Area E: The international world

All students take the following four examinations:

  • Paper 1 Listening
  • Paper 2 Reading
  • Paper 3 Speaking
  • Paper 4 Writing


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

  • Paper 1 Listening: students listen to a number of recordings and answer questions with non-verbalresponses (e.g. tick boxes) and verbal responses in Chinese (either using Chinese characters or pinyin). The examination lasts approximately 35 minutes (30 marks)
  • Paper 2 Reading: students read a number of texts and answer questions with non-verbal responses (e.g. tick boxes) and verbal responses using Chinese characters. The examination lasts 1 hour 15 minutes (36 marks)
  • Paper 3 Speaking: students complete two role plays, a topic presentation/conversation and a general conversation. The examination is carried out by the teacher who has taught the class and lasts approximately 15 minutes. It is recorded and assessed internally and moderated externally (100 marks)
  • Paper 4 Writing: candidates respond in the target language to three tasks. The examination lasts 1 hour 15 minutes (45 marks)

All skills except speaking are assessed at the end of Year 11 in external examinations. There is no controlled assessment in this subject.

At a glance
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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