Mandarin song-writing workshop and rock concert at Christ’s Hospital School


Christ’s Hospital School in West Sussex was transformed into a rock and roll venue in October when Asian-fusion rock band Transition led a song-writing workshop for Year 10 and Year 13 pupils followed by a performance. Three-piece Transition (前进乐团) are from the UK but honed their Mandarin skills in Taiwan and sing in Mandarin Chinese, resulting in a fusion of Eastern and Western musical influences. Christ’s Hospital School Mandarin Teacher Irene Mainwaring spoke about her decision to stage the workshop:

‘When I heard that Transition conducts song writing workshops for students in schools, I thought it an ideal opportunity to motivate our Mandarin learners to further develop their interest in the language. I wanted our pupils to see and hear from successful examples of what can be achieved with perseverance and determination, and how with some imagination, they too can carve careers out of their Mandarin skills.’


The Bristol-based band wrote the official theme song ‘Olympic Dream’ (前进) for the Taiwanese Olympic team during the London 2012 Olympics and performed this as well as their signature song ‘Sorry, my Chinese is not good’ (对不起, 我的中文不好).

The band shared useful tips on learning Mandarin with the students from their own experiences of learning, and encouraged them to write their own lyrics in Mandarin, which Oba Osundina, Yr 10 described as “incredibly motivating and inspiring. I learnt a lot about the fun ways Mandarin can be used!”  They then performed for UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools Director Katharine Carruthers.


Katharine was also at Christ’s Hospital to present one of the winners of the UCL IOE CI’s Young People’s Photography Competition with his certificate. Two-time winner Angel Droth submitted a stellar portfolio of photos in the Changing China category and it is fantastic to see his continuing engagement with Chinese culture, well done Angel!

Photography certificate

The event continued with an evening rock concert for the whole school and Mandarin and non-Mandarin speakers alike got into the spirit singing along to the chorus of ‘对不起,我的中文不好’.  Some of the pupils shared their thoughts about the day:

‘The Transition Workshop was one of the best things ever. It was such a great experience to meet the amazing band as they are so well known, and the fact we got to work and create our own songs was just magnificent!’  Lennox U Anyanwu, Year 10

I feel the workshop has improved my Mandarin skills because hearing the words I know in short sentences in a song has been very helpful for memorising them. I got to put my knowledge to work towards the end as well when we were asked to write a parody to a transition song on a topic of our choice which helped us to know how to form good sentences which made sense. Katherine S Cooley, Year 10

Irene reflected on the success of the day, saying “I know that stepping outside of my comfortable classroom was the right decision and I am glad to have the support of my school to experiment with a different approach.”

Has your school had some fun with Chinese teaching and learning lately? Please let us know, it’s always great to share the ways in which we can engage students in active learning!