2019 Conference: Chinese Development Plenary


Our 16th Annual Chinese Teaching Conference, ‘Looking Back, Thinking Forward,’ will take place on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th June. On Saturday 15th, there will be a plenary titled ‘Expanding Knowledge: Thinking forward to the future of Chinese development and delivery’, which will explore the different ways in which the IOE CI and other organisations develop Chinese in the UK. Two of the contributors to this plenary have kindly spoken to us about the plenary as well as about the IOE CI’s Chinese development courses. The contributors are Zoe Barfield of Woking High School who is currently doing the IOE CI Upskilling Mandarin course and Kai Cheung from Alexandra Park School who is in the middle of the IOE CI Early Leaders Course.

Hello Zoe and Kai. 

Kai, you are currently in the middle of the IOE CI Early Leaders Course. Can you tell us about your experiences on this course and the skills it is helping you develop?

EditThe Early Leaders Course has enabled me to further my professional development extending beyond classroom teaching. The course, which takes place over the year and includes three face to face sessions, has equipped me with the skills necessary for a management/leadership position in a school. The course has also enabled me to make a wider contribution beyond the classroom to my school.

Zoe, can you tell us about your experiences on the Mandarin Upskilling course and the skills it is helping you develop?

EditThe Upskilling course has been of great help to me in building my confidence and improving my teaching practice. I had previously lived and worked in China as an English teacher but I returned in 2004 and my Mandarin was very rusty. When my current Headteacher told me that she wanted the school to participate in the Mandarin Excellence Programme, and asked me if I would teach on it, I was initially very nervous. I panicked and instantly registered myself to take the HSK1 as a target to kick-start my learning!

I was then offered a place on the Upskilling course in Shanghai and I leapt at the chance to refresh my skills and return to China. The course covered a lot of language I already knew, plus vocabulary I had never needed as an adult learner – pets, hobbies and school subjects for example. I have also gained a whole range of teaching strategies which I now regularly use in my own teaching. It has also been great to meet others and share a love for the Chinese language and culture. The workshops are also good for focussing me and it has been great to meet and get help from the IOE MA students.

You will both be on the discussion panel of the plenary, ‘Expanding knowledge: Thinking forward to the future of Chinese development and delivery’. What advice would you give to someone who wants to expand their knowledge in terms of Chinese development and delivery in their schools?

Kai Cheung My advice is to always be open minded, to embrace constructive feedback and work with feedback to improve yourself. Also, try and learn new skills that will widen your knowledge about your subject and equip you for the development of Chinese delivery. For example, learning about the use of technology in the language classroom.

Zoe Barfield My advice would be to get students to really engage with Chinese culture as well as language. This really sets it apart from the European languages. The Mandarin Excellence Programme’s homework requirement means that students have completed projects on a whole range of different topics.

I would also try to encourage colleagues to learn some Mandarin. There is a stigma surrounding it; that it’s too hard. I’ve especially heard this from language teachers! I am going to use my students as ambassadors and show what’s possible in a relatively short space of time.


What are you both most looking forward to at the Conference this year?

KC I’m really looking forward to seeing my past colleagues and meeting new people!

ZB I am looking forward to gaining new ideas and resources for my lessons and hearing about other teachers’ experiences of teaching Mandarin.

Thank-you Kai and Zoe!

To find out more about the 2019 Annual Chinese Teaching Conference, please visit our Conference webpage.