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.
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.
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 a grade 7 or higher 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?
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 2 hours. 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.
To be confirmed at the start of the course
Chinese for A-Level
By Xiaoming Zhang
Published by Cypress Book Co, ISBN 978-1845700119
Exam Board and Specification Codes
A level: Pearson-Edexcel 9CN0
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