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.

A 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.

Reading

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

Edexcel Chinese for A2
By M. Tate et al
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-0521770002

Chinese for A-Level
By Xiaoming Zhang
Published by Cypress Book Co, ISBN 978-1845700119

 

Exam Board and Specification Codes

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

Samuel

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
Exeter University (International Relations)

I have really enjoyed my time MPW and would recommend this college to anyone. I learnt how to work more efficiently and revise more effectively thanks to the tutorials and weekly Timed Assignments, which also allowed me to prepare myself mentally for the exams from the first day. My history teacher was phenomenal. He managed to get me to reengage with the subject, as well as giving me all the support and help I asked for and more, giving me the knowledge and exams technique needed to achieve an A*."

Mark

Grades achieved at MPW
AAB

Progressed to
Southampton University (Business Innovation)

The small class sizes proved invaluable for a number of reasons, some of which I did not anticipate. Aside from the obvious individual attention, the size of the class allowed for a lot of students’ questions to turn into a fruitful academic discussion. I have found the atmosphere at the college far more friendly and supportive than I expected. The support I had from my Personal Tutor was very helpful during the application process for university. I could tell that he really did care about my future and wanted to do everything he could in order to help me secure my place at my chosen university. Overall, I am pleased to say that my high expectations of MPW were fully met.

Matthew

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Warwick University (Chemistry)

“I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice.”

Gabriel

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made. 

Andrew

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”

Anastasia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”

Akmaral

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”

Julia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AABB

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”