Primary Schools

Primary 3

Why Mandarin?

Young Britons today need the knowledge and skills that will equip them to thrive in the increasingly interconnected world of the future. Parents, business analysts and politicians have voiced support for Mandarin Chinese as the language to learn in order to compete for jobs in the global markets of the 21st century. These are important considerations, but in our experience, it’s the fun that teachers and learners have with Mandarin that is the most compelling reason of all.

Language and Culture

Chinese represents, in both its written and spoken forms, a manifestly different approach to language and communication to that encountered in European languages. All languages both reflect and affect the cultures in which they have developed, and this interdependence is particularly apparent in Chinese and is a vitally useful tool in navigating the language’s perceived difficulties. The more aspects of Chinese culture students are exposed to, the better and quicker their understanding of the language will become.


Dragon painting: Mission Grove Primary School in WalthamstowWith Primary Level students in particular, though this applies more widely also, it is the excitement of encountering a rich and fascinating culture that drives interest in learning the language.

Pure linguists are few and far between in KS1&2, but keen and enquiring minds are plentiful.

New to Mandarin?

We hope you enjoy this introduction to Chinese characters as much as we did…

Next steps

The UCL Institute of Education (IOE) is working with partner HSBC to extend provision for Mandarin Chinese language learning in the primary sector (Mandarin Chinese for Primary Schools).
If you are teaching or thinking of teaching Mandarin, we want to hear from you!


  1. Read Case Studies on Mandarin Chinese in 3 UK primary schools
  2. Browse our Primary Materials page
  3. Subscribe to the free Primary School Mandarin e-forum
  4. Enter your details below to contact the team!