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Aims & Philosophy of the Oriental Studies Department

“They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it.”  – The Analects of Confucius

China, Chinese-speaking peoples and the lands’ immense cultural legacy are re-shaping the modern world as we know it. In light of China’s recent rise, there has never been a better time to learn Chinese language and about its culture. Chinese Mandarin is an exciting language programme which offers girls the opportunity to look beyond Chinese stereotypes and, in so doing, glimpse an alternative version of the world around them. We also believe that the study of Mandarin is an excellent complement for students who aspire to work in a global context, as the language is of great benefit in business and commerce.

The Department of Oriental Studies aims to deliver Mandarin lessons to every student at all levels of interest and ability while fostering an awareness of the cultural and historical traditions that have led to the creation of modern day China. Girls have the opportunity  to develop a real sense of enjoyment from learning this ancient language while at the same time acquiring one of the most valuable skills needed in future business. The department encourages the development of these skills through interactive teaching methods, independent oral and audio projects and the regular practice of reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Overview of Key Stage 5 Curriculum

The decision to take Mandarin at A Level should be rooted in a love of languages and a desire to understand China’s vibrant culture more fully. Level options are offered to both native and non-native speakers in Mandarin or Cantonese.

At AS Level, girls cover general topic areas, including food, diet and health; transport, travel and tourism; education and employment; and leisure, youth interests and Chinese Festivals.

The A2 topic areas are the same as those for AS, with the addition of the environment. Xiaoming Zhang, Yamin Ma and Michelle Tate’s textbooks are our primary resource, and we supplement them freely with our own materials. For non-native speakers, 5 periods and a 30 minutes one-to-one conversational lesson are devoted to Mandarin in both AS and A2 Levels. For native speakers, there is no formal lesson at Year LVI; however, a minimum 1 hour per week will be arranged in Year UVI. This will be mainly used for preparing the research based essay at A2.

By the end of the course, students will be able to Speak in Chinese for 5-6 minutes in response to a short English-language stimulus, understand a range of recorded Chinese-language material,
read pieces of authentic Chinese text and retrieve and convey information from it, write 180-200 characters of continuous Chinese in the form of a letter, report or article, and complete a research-based essay which is about an area of interest.

During the preparation of this essay students have the opportunity to explore a feature of Chinese culture or society in great depth

What makes the department unique from those at other schools?

Many girls describe the subject as “different” as it adds freshness to their learning experiences. Mandarin lessons are filled with a rich variety of fun activities and resources to ensure that different learning styles are catered for. Our students will find themselves interacting in Chinese with their teacher, between each other and with Chinese girls at QM. For those unable to have Mandarin as their curriculum lesson, they can enjoy learning at the weekly Mandarin Club.

The department strongly believes in the importance of promoting the culture of a country alongside the study of its language. Therefore a wide range of enrichment activities are organised, including  watching and reviewing Chinese films and videos, learning to sing Chinese pop songs, celebrating traditional Chinese festivals and eating out at Chinese restaurants. QM’s first trip to China is also being organised for Easter 2015.

Career prospects for reading Mandarin are endless. Some include international finance, foreign office, interpreting and translating, journalism and publishing.

To learn about the Oriental Studies Department
curriculum in other Key Stages please choose a link