Most of our secondary school students study our Secondary School Chinese curriculum. We use teaching resources and our online portal designed around this curriculum to strengthen the programme and ensure good progress. The key objective is for students to experience a world-class curriculum lesson and to make Mandarin Chinese language and culture both fun and easy to learn. Students will use the Secondary School Chinese textbooks, workbooks and online learning materials throughout the course. To find out more about how the course is structured, see our Books page.
When to start
All of our secondary school provision starts in year 7. This is especially important for continuity if students have prior knowledge from their primary or preparatory education. The course starts from foundation level, but with a more mature style and with more detailed textbook resources. By introducing Chinese onto the curriculum at year 7, the students have ample time to get to grips with the foundation knowledge before choosing their GCSE subjects.
Secondary schools usually timetable one 40-60 minute class per week for the first two years of study. This is ample time to gain a good foundation level of language and introduce the students to a wide range of culture. Once students progress past year 8, it is recommended to give them at least two 40-60 minute lessons per week. In Year 7, teachers aim to complete book 1 of the Secondary School Chinese course. One lesson per week (plus homework) is a suitable amount of time to achieve this. In Year 8, students move on to Book 2 of the Secondary School Chinese curriculum, which requires a similar length of study as Book 1. Once students progress past Book 2 (usually in Year 9) it is advisable to increase the timetabled lessons to at least two per week. This will enable the students to begin building up a good vocabulary of Chinese characters and lay some good groundwork for the GCSE course.
The Edexcel GCSE in Mandarin Chinese is organised in a similar way to the other modern foreign languages. Students are required to demonstrate their knowledge in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Dragons in Europe is completing work on a new textbook to use to prepare for this exam. It will bring in a variety of disciplines and resources to make the course easier to follow, revise and enjoy. Once the new GCSE specifications have been determined by the government, we aim to release a second book which will ensure that our students are well-prepared, not only for the GCSE exam, but also to communicate using Chinese in a real-world environment. When offering a GCSE course, we recommend allocating the same time on the timetable as with other GCSE courses offered at the school.
Homework is an important part of our secondary school curriculum. For Years 7 and 8 homework is usually set through the e-learning portal and is marked automatically with moderation and comments by the teacher. These activities usually take around 30 minutes. Once in Year 9, students may be required to complete more complex tasks at home, especially with regards to practising writing Chinese characters. Typically, students may complete one character learning exercise and one comprehension or writing exercise per week at home. Many students like to use our e-learning portal to consolidate their learning, or apps such as Quizlet, to vary their study styles.
Our teachers usually set an end-of-year assessment at the end of each year from Years 7 – 9. This is either produced by the teacher themselves, or, upon request, can be produced as an online assessment by Dragons in Europe for a more standardised format. Once studying the GCSE curriculum, students will be assessed in Year 10 through a GCSE foundation mock, and in Year 11 by the GCSE itself. Mock tests and assessments will be given to help train the students to have good exam technique.
GCSE Mandarin Chinese Study Centres
If there simply isn’t enough space on the timetable for Mandarin Chinese please have a look at our Study Centres service, where we can set up a small study group hosted at your school outside of normal timetable hours.