Upskilling Course 2019-2020

In Autumn 2018 we launched a new teacher training initiative: the 3-year Mandarin Upskilling Course. Unique in focus, the course aims to “upskill” QTS primary and secondary schools teachers who would like to develop language and pedagogy skills enabling them to teach Mandarin Chinese up to KS3 and KS4. It is an ideal opportunity for teachers who would like to support existing Mandarin provision in their school, or who would like to introduce Mandarin in their schools. A current Level 2 teacher, who excelled on Level 1 last year, is now using her newly-acquired language skills to teach Mandarin at her primary school in Cheshire:

“I’m teaching Reception and two Year 3 classes one lesson a week each and they really seem to enjoy it… We use lots of songs and practical activities in every lesson. I am still really enjoying the course and chipping away at it most days. The resources work really well and I use Pleco a lot to help me. I am finding that the vocabulary I use at school goes in really well, the rest I have to revisit frequently, but I’m getting there!”


(Picture of primary school child writing Mandarin characters at the school of one of our Upskilling Course members)

The course offers a “blended learning” approach, combining the self-study of an online course, linked to the Jinbu textbook (Levels 1 & 2), with face-to-face training events. At the end of each year, participating teachers also attend intensive learning events: for Levels 1 and 3 this is in the UK, meanwhile for Level 2 this is in China. They also have level tests each year to assess their progress, and completion certificates are provided. At the end of Level 3, teachers sit the internationally recognised HSK Chinese language test.

The format has been well received by participants, as this review from a secondary school teacher demonstrates:

“The course has been fantastic for me – the teaching is of an excellent standard.  It is always fun and interactive and I have been able to use many of the teaching methods not only for Mandarin but also adapted to other languages that I teach.  It has also been great to meet other colleagues who are also upskilling themselves.”

In the first year of running the course, we had two levels: Level 1 for complete beginners and Level 2 for teachers who already had some exposure to Mandarin. Now in its second year, the two initial cohorts have moved up to Level 2 and 3 respectively and we have a new cohort of Level 1 participants who joined in September 2019, with a a good mix of both primary and secondary teachers.

In particular, the face-to-face workshops, aimed at consolidating self-study from the online course and providing additional cultural and pedagogical input, have been very successful. This has been significantly aided by the support of Chinese MA students studying at UCL IOE, who have given their time for free to volunteer at the Upskilling workshops – and other teaching training events, too! Their involvement means that participants have the opportunity to practise their oral skills in small groups or one-on-one with a native speaker, which really is invaluable when learning a new language. Their input is clearly valued, as shown in the below testimonial from a secondary school teacher in the West Midlands:

“I wanted to say how enjoyable the workshop was yesterday! The time absolutely flew by. It was really good fun and the presentations were great. Lovely to have the MA students to practise with as well. I learned a lot having that concentrated time. Although my eldest daughter now thinks I’ve gone slightly mad as I was practicing my pronunciation this morning and she had no idea what I was trying to do!”

We would like to thank the many practitioners from both our own Confucius Institute team and from across the Mandarin-teaching world, and for the continued support of a number of MA students from the Institute of Education who have delivered sessions at our workshops. Their knowledge and teaching methods have played a key role in developing the language skills and ability of our participants.

If you are interested in taking part in the course from September 2020, please contact with an initial expression of interest.

Please note that the cost of workshops, online course and study (including accommodation) in China is free. Travel and daily expenses are not included in the UK or China. Entry costs for the HSK exam is not included either.

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