Year 9 Mandarin Excellence Intensive Study 2019

MEP-59At the end of June 2019, over 400 Year 9 Mandarin Excellence Programme students and teachers travelled to Nottingham University for the very first Year 9 Intensive Study. The residential event took place over four days and the students participated in a variety of activities aimed at improving their knowledge of Mandarin and Chinese culture, as well as giving them a taste of university life. Students had to be organized and independent, and were thrilled to have their own rooms!

After a welcome talk and a tour of the campus, it was time for the lessons to begin. The students were split into twelve classes, each named after a Chinese province and every class a mix of students from different schools. The fifteen schools involved were all from the original cohort of 2016 Mandarin Excellence Programme schools, and the students are therefore among the most skilled Mandarin learners of their age, having studied intensely for eight hours a week, every week for the past three years.

As well as Chinese lessons, there were also lectures and talks for the students from a variety of speakers. Talks on topics such as football in China and Chinese tourism in the UK were enthusiastically received, as were the Chinese culture lectures from University academics which gave students a true university lecture experience. Evening activities included traditional Chinese games and activities, arts and crafts and even having a go at Table Tennis, Chinese dance and Tai Chi!

The overarching theme of the event was ‘Our Mandarin World’, and the main aim was for the students to work collaboratively on a project to advertise their hometown. Each school group had to deliver a ‘Dragons Den’-esque pitch to a panel of Mandarin speaking experts, alongside creating a poster advertisment – all in Mandarin.  Each panel of judges saw some very high quality Mandarin in use, which led to a tense situation in the judges room as the top three pitches were chosen!

The top three schools then had to deliver their pitches to a lecture hall of their peers as well as our guest judges Xiaoming Zhu and Eve Baker of Beiwei 55.


There was a definite ripple of awe when students learnt that Xiaoming had helped author the Jinbu textbooks they study from! Three fantastic pitches were given at the closing ceremony and the results were very close, but the school ultimately chosen from the three was Dartford Grammar School. The school wowed the room with their rendition of a song about the local area, complete with harmonies and performed fully (in Mandarin of course).

It was an intensive week, full to the brim with activities. By the end of a tiring but rewarding four days, students were sad to say goodbye; particularly to the new friends they had made from other schools. When asked on the final day “How many of you are thinking of continuing your Chinese studies?” a sea of enthusiastic hands shot up into the air. Students went home with newly-developed abilities in public speaking, group work, design, marketing, picking a target audience, communication, and creativity – not to mention some useful new Chinese slang!

The Year 9 Mandarin Excellence Programme Intensive Study was delivered at Nottingham University from 24th to 27th June. More information is available in the pre-event blog published on this website here.

The tweets below from the UCL IOE CI and some of our participating schools give you some further insight into what took place: