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Chinese opens university doors for young learners

12 September 2022

Pupils from Aberconwy School to study Chinese at university

Three pupils from Confucius Classroom Ysgol Aberconwy will start studying Chinese at top UK universities this September.

Under the tutelage and support of Cardiff Confucius Institute (CCI) tutor Jie Chen at Ysgol Aberconwy, the Year 13 students were able to build on their Chinese skills to degree levels in Bangor, Edinburgh and Manchester.

Erin Hughes and Eleanor McNab started studying Chinese at the school in year 8, and Lara Kerr began in year 9. At first Erin was a member of the Chinese after-school club which she went along to “just to try something new”. Then in 2017, she had the opportunity to join a trip to China through CCI, a “mind-blowing experience” which kick-started her love of all things Chinese.

“When I heard about a trip to China with school, I knew I had to start lessons so I would be able to take part in this amazing experience. I passed exams in beginners Chinese [Language Pathways in Mandarin levels 1 and 3] and in 2019, I was lucky enough to go on the school trip to Xiamen and Shanghai for two weeks!” she said.

Eleanor also first began Chinese because she thought it would be a challenge. She started in year 8 and quickly found that she liked it much more than she expected! She said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the lessons and I think I’ve benefited from studying the language in a small class, where Jie is always happy to explain the answers to any questions I have very well. A big part of why I have enjoyed the lessons so much is that Jie is clearly enthusiastic about teaching and happy to help.”

Lara has had a “a passion for” Chinese culture from a young age. She wanted to take advantage of the classes provided at the school, and passed two vocational Language Pathway exams during her time there. It was also however Lara’s trip to China through the Confucius Institute in year 11 that really solidified her love for the language and culture. “ I found Chinese to be so different with all the old art and architecture” she said.

All three pupils hope to continue advancing their Chinese language skills and knowledge of the culture as they move on to university. Lara will be going to Bangor University to take a Linguistics and Chinese degree, Eleanor will study Mandarin alongside Physics at Edinburgh, and Erin will be studying Chinese and French at Manchester University.

Through the support of the school and CCI, both Erin and Eleanor have passed their HSK 1 and HSK 2 Mandarin Chinese examinations in the past two years. Whilst HSK qualifications do not carry UCAS points, both felt that they really helped their university applications by showing a willingness and interest in the language, and an effort into studying for the tests.

Eleanor said “Without having the option to take Mandarin lessons in school, this is something I would never have considered doing, as learning a language like Mandarin can seem like a very intimidating task, but the lessons I have taken have provided me with the option to start Mandarin at an intermediate level at university, an opportunity I am very grateful for.”

Erin added “The Chinese lessons at school have opened doors to so many opportunities and showed me my passion which I will go on to study at higher education. After university I would really like to go to China again to work, perhaps even live there!”

The girls’ Cardiff Confucius Institute teacher Jie Chen said “I am very honoured to be the Chinese teacher for these three students who are not only talented, but also very hardworking. They could not have reached their current level of Chinese if they had not spent a lot of time studying after the classes.”

Their school languages teacher Nia Williams added “I am beyond proud of them and how well they’ve done. They have coped with all obstacles, embraced every opportunity and shown great determination and hard work to pass their Chinese exams and to get as far as they have.”

Ysgol Aberconwy is a secondary school in Conwy, North Wales. They have been a Confucius Classroom with Cardiff Confucius Institute since 2011, giving them special status and funding for Chinese language and culture teaching, and a dedicated tutor to deliver it.

Interested in introducing Chinese to your pupils? Contact our Wales China Schools Manager to discuss your options.

Victoria Ucele

Victoria Ucele

Wales China Schools Project Manager - Cardiff Confucius Institute

+44 (0)29 2087 5602

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