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    One fifth of the planet speaks Chinese. Mandarin is the mother tongue of over 873 million people, making it the most widely spoken first language in the world. China is one of the UK’s biggest trading partners and many British companies have long-term investments there.

    It is therefore an exciting time to study Chinese and an opportunity not to be missed for students who are keen to take on a challenge. At Oakham Mandarin can now be studied in Forms 6 and 7 as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma. It is introduced as an ab initio course, meaning that we start right from the beginning, with no previous knowledge required.

    By the end of the course, students will have the necessary skills and cultural understanding to enable them to communicate successfully in an environment where Mandarin is spoken, be it in China, Taiwan, Singapore, or any worldwide Chinese communities, such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Mongolia. Mandarin can also be studied in Forms 4, 5, and 6 as an extra-curricular activity.

    To give students practice in speaking the language and an opportunity to experience Chinese culture, we run a trip to China for Form 5 students who are interested in studying Mandarin, and for Form 6 students who are already studying IB Mandarin. We have also established an exchange programme with a school in China.

    Beyond School, having knowledge of Mandarin and an understanding of Chinese culture provides a competitive advantage to students when applying for jobs and to universities. Studying Mandarin can open doors to many important fields such as politics, economy, history, archaeology, journalism… the possibilities are endless.