Pre-U Support Event in Manchester


Following successful Pre-U support events over the past four years, UCL IOE Confucius Institute and Manchester Grammar School for Boys partnered together to deliver workshops for teachers based in the north, on 9th November. This was organised by Ru Lan, Head of Mandarin, and Philippa Vallely, UCL IOE Confucius Institute Teacher Training Coordinator.

The Cambridge Pre-U is an alternative to the current A Level qualification, and has recognition for university entrance. In recent years it has been growing rapidly as a popular options for students wishing to continue their Chinese to a higher level. Our Pre-U support events help Mandarin teachers find strategies and different approaches to teach the Culture Paper (Paper 4). Sessions are presented by teachers who have had experience and success in delivering the Pre-U course in their schools. Philippa shared her thoughts regarding three key areas Pre-U teachers need to be aware of, having run our Pre-U training events for the last four years,  working closely with Pre-U Mandarin teachers.

1) Collaborate with subject specialists
The Culture Paper (Paper 4) covers a wide range of topics, such as Chinese history, geography, economics, literature and film. By collaborating with and learning from subject professionals, Chinese teachers and their students can acquire the knowledge required for the Culture Paper.

2) Develop essay writing and marking skills
It is essential for Mandarin language teacher to understand principals of essay writing and marking, as the Paper 4 has to be written in English and students are expected to know the structure and format of effective essay writing. Working with subject specialists within your school can really help develop this ability.

3) Develop students’ self-learning skills
Pre-U aims to develop students’ self-learning ability in order to get students ready for independent learning at universities. It is also essential for students to develop analytical skills, in order to be able to answer the essay questions to a high level.

During the Pre-U event at the Manchester Grammar School for Boys, Ru Lan presented how she works effectively across different departments with subject professionals. Ashley Hern, a history teacher from the School, demonstrated innovative ways of breaking down Chinese history thematically and balancing the depth and breadth of teaching. This approach was appreciated by the teachers present, with one commenting that “splitting the history into reasonable chunks” was the most useful part of the day for them.

The second section of the Pre-U culture paper focuses on Chinese film and literature. Philippa delivered a session on the political and historical background to the Blue Kite and Chronicle of a Blood Merchant. The Pre-U event culminated with John Tucker’s session on analysing film and literature. John teaches English at Manchester Grammar, and his passion for teaching literature and film was evident, as one participant wrote; I found useful that John has explained how to prepare students to write literacy, which as a Chinese languages teacher, I found it is quite difficult.

We would like to thank Manchester Grammar School for Boys for hosting the event and sharing their expertise and experience.