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.
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?
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.
Easy Steps to Chinese vols. 6-8
By Yamin Ma
Published by Beijing Language and Culture University Press, ISBN: 978-7561923818
Cheng Nan Jiu Shi
By H. Lin
Published by Contemporary China Publishing House, ISBN 978-7801703071
Exam Board and Specification Codes
A level: Pearson-Edexcel 9CN0
Ana Abad Jara
Head of Department
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