Introducing Chinese language and culture to PGCE MFL students

In 2014-2015, we offered beginner’s training in Mandarin to MFL PGCE students across the UK. This included both our online course for beginners, some face-to-face training in July and the opportunity to apply for the Experience China course (which is open to all teachers who are new to Mandarin and would like to introduce it in their school).

“This course is of particular interest as it offers you a certain level of flexibility through the independent online learning, but more importantly, it provides you with the unique opportunity to go and visit China.”

PGCE assignment

In total, 75 MFL PGCE students from 13 different universities participated in the online course in Beginner’s Mandarin.This is a self-study course (also open to teachers new to the subject who would like to introduce it in school), which provides materials and resources to study, alongside online classes with native speaker teachers.

I have enjoyed learning the beginners Mandarin so far as it is so different to learning other languages. I find the visual element really exciting and I’m sure that students will feel the same. It also feels like an achievement to be able to read some basic Mandarin!

“Mandarin is very different to the other languages I speak, not only in terms of orthography, pronunciation and grammar, but also because of the exciting differences in the language culture that I am learning along the way.”


Following the online course, 22 students also participated in a week-long training event in London, where they consolidated language from the online course, learnt about cultural aspects of China, and developed ideas and activities to use these in the classroom. This was achieved through the support of colleagues at the UCL IOE CI and our great Hanban teachers:

Fascinating intro to Chinese culture and history/ customs… I felt I made a lot of progress during the week.

Leo’s session using classroom pedagogy to teach us the language was very useful as it seemed real and showed us how we would teach Chinese in the classroom.

The language session with Yu Laoshi was fantastic- well structured and I really felt I progressed.


20 students also participated in our “Experience China” trip- an intensive two-week language course at East China Normal University in Shanghai.

Morning classes with Fei Fei were really engaging and informative, loved them. Her teaching was incredibly professional and she had a great rapport with the class.

It was a great experience to be here in Shanghai and get to know more about this country and culture.

I have throughly enjoyed the two weeks training in Shanghai and have gone from barely being able to communicate to being able to use what I have learnt to book tickets, ask for prices, directions etc… now I can’t wait to come back to China again.


Students found these experiences extremely valuable in starting to understand Chinese language and culture, and here are some of the ways in which they plan to contribute to their schools in their NQT year:

“I genuinely want to continue with my learning of Mandarin as I believe it would benefit my new school who already teach it to native speakers- we could perhaps extend this to non-native speakers with my help.”

“I would like to introduce an afternoon club, so that students learn the culture by having fun.”

“I would like to offer a beginner’s Chinese club to spark interest in learning non-European languages and in Chinese language and culture.”

Here’s looking forward to 2015-2016!