A Level Chinese


What is it about at sixth form level?

Learning a modern language for GCSE is a matter of taking your first steps to learn rudimentary grammar and vocabulary that leave real conversations still beyond your reach. It is at the sixth-form level that you will deepen your grammatical competence and broaden your vocabulary so that you can converse about and debate real-world issues, and immerse yourself into the culture, literature and arts of the country. Even though we live in an age where it seems English is spoken everywhere and where Google Translate will help you where it is not, there is nothing like the experience and satisfaction of being able to step inside a different way of speaking and seeing the world.

Learning a language spoken by one fifth of the world’s population will open the door to one of the world’s oldest and richest cultures. Exposure to Chinese, a language which is entirely different to all European languages, will provide one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your life. By looking at media, books and film you will to develop the knowledge and skills to enable you to understand the unique values, struggles, sensibility, joys and sorrows of the Chinese people.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will begin developing your oral fluency and accuracy in a range of predictable and unpredictable situations, as well as your ability to produce long essays and reports. You will also be increasing your intercultural knowledge and understanding of contemporary Chinese society. You will focus on two themes. Theme 1 (Changes in Contemporary Chinese society) looks at firstly at family structure and the generation gap, family
planning and China’s ageing population. It then takes in education, the world of work, and how to maintain a good work-life balance. Theme 2 (Chinese Culture) looks at traditions and customs. You will look at the importance place of festivals, such as the Spring festival and Dragon boat festival. You will also look at film, music, books alongside social issues and trends.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will keep working on your oral and written skills whilst enlarging your knowledge of Chinese society through the study of two more themes. Theme 3 (Evolving Chinese Society) looks at economic, political and social issues, ranging from communications and the use of the internet to economic policies and environmental protection. Theme
4 (post-1978 China on the World Stage) looks at key political figures in the last fifty years, the changes to and contrast between urban and rural life, and China’s relationships with Europe and America. You will also broaden your knowledge of Chinese through looking at looking at more books and films.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Knowledge of a foreign language is ever more valuable in an increasingly connected world. Many employers look for knowledge of at least one other language across a wide range of jobs. Understanding a language is a first step to understanding a people and a culture. Another language enables you to enjoy everything from a casual conversation to a classic novel as it was meant to be read. It also provides a means by which to reflect upon your own culture and gain a deeper understanding of your mother tongue. An A level is typically a prerequisite for studying the language at university.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You should ideally have an A or A* at GCSE. If it is your mother tongue or a second language, you will need to be able to speak and write it proficiently. You will also need an interest in other cultures and a willingness to work hard on a language which is totally different to all European languages.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

There are three exams. The Paper 1 exam (Listening, Reading and Translation into English)
will test your listening comprehension skills, your ability to read and respond to a variety of texts. It is worth 40% of the AS level and lasts 1 hour 45 minutes. The Paper 2 exam (Written Response to Works and Translation) will test your understanding of two works you will study in Chinese (either two books or a book and a film). It is worth 30% of the AS level and lasts 1 hour 40 minutes. The Paper 3 exam (Speaking) will test your ability to analyse and summarise research findings, elaborating on key points of interest, through oral presentation and
discussion. It is worth 30% of the AS level and lasts about 27-30 minutes.

A2 level

There are three exams. The Paper 1 exam (Listening, Reading and Translation into English) will test your listening comprehension skills, your ability to read and respond to a variety of texts. It is worth 40% of the A level and lasts 1 hour 50 minutes. The Paper 2 exam (Written Response to Works and Translation) will test your understanding of two works you will study in Chinese (either two books or a book and a film). It is worth 30% of the A level and lasts 2 hours 40
minutes. The Paper 3 exam (Speaking) will test your ability to analyse and summarise research findings, elaborating on key points of interest, through oral presentation and discussion. It is worth 30% of the A level and lasts about 21-23 minutes.


Edexcel Chinese for AS
By M. Tate et al
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-0340967843

Cheng Nan Jiu Shi
By H. Lin
Published by Contemporary China Publishing House, ISBN 978-7801703071

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: Pearson-Edexcel 8CN0, A level: Pearson-Edexcel 9CN0

Ana Abad Jara
Head of Department


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Medicine)

The teachers have been amazing and have all gone over and above everything I needed. Coming to MPW is the best decision I ever made, I’m just so glad I came here. I would never have got these grades without the support of MPW and my fantastic teachers.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (Philosophy and Mathematics)

MPW felt more like a university than a school for me. I really liked having the freedom to plan my own time around the set periods of lessons and there is also a real focus on doing your work on time, being methodical and preparing well so there is no last-minute stress at the end of the year. Unlike at some schools where it can be a lottery who your teachers are, at MPW they are all first-rate. If, like me, you change your mind after school about what you want to do and need to get some new A levels there is nowhere better to cater to your needs. I would recommend MPW. It is a fantastic school. 


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (History and Innovation)

The teaching is amazing. It’s so relaxed and if there is anything you don’t understand it is easy to ask. I wanted to do a course that is not usually taken by History students at MPW (Tudor Rebellion) so they tailored a course for me and I had one-to-one tuition for that part. It’s been really good to boost my grade.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Medicine)

I chose MPW because my brother came to MPW, loved his time here and came out with really good grades. When I didn’t do so well in my AS levels I knew something had to change. I came for an admissions meeting and it felt like a good fit for me. It’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve never had an exam period before where I wasn’t stressed, panicky or not feeling prepared but at MPW they have changed that. The exam preparation that you do throughout the year has helped me so much.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Cellular and Molecular Medicine)

I retook my A levels because I had my heart set on going to Bristol and I knew that I could do better than BBB. My parents chose MPW for me because of its fantastic reputation. MPW has been so much better than I expected. The teaching is so enthusiastic, they do exactly what you want and are really focussed at the same time as being very personable and taking a genuine interest in you.