Dulwich High School's Mandarin Curriculum

Learning Mandarin has been an important part of the curriculum ever since Dulwich College International opened its first school in Shanghai in 2003, and we are proud of our track record - 62% of our students have achieved top scores in IB Mandarin.

The richness and diversity of our college communities is such that the full spectrum of linguistic ability in Mandarin is found within our student body. Our students range from complete beginners to those with fully age-appropriate native-language literacy skills. To meet the learning needs of each student, the Dulwich Mandarin curriculum employs three pathways: Mandarin A: Chinese as a Native Language, Mandarin B: Mandarin as a Second Language and Mandarin C: Mandarin as a Foreign Language.

Learning Chinese with Wo Hui Course

All our Mandarin teachers participate in a biannual DCI Mandarin Conference, and have been involved in developing our pioneering Mandarin curriculum, including our unique Wo Hui Mandarin programme for Mandarin C students.

In following Dulwich College International’s motto, detur pons mondo, or building bridges to the world, our educators set out to build bridges between Chinese and non-Chinese worlds. “Wo Hui” is a new method of teaching Chinese which seeks to overcome the difficulties that students experience when using more traditional methods. The most obvious difference between the Wo Hui course and the standard courses is that speaking and listening and reading and writing are taught separately and with different content. In Wo Hui, characters are introduced in terms of their simplicity and their frequency of use, thus enabling students to rapidly build up a useful and powerful bank of characters. Another important departure from standard methods is to treat the individual character as the fundamental unit of meaning. The strapline for the Wo Hui course is “It’s not what you know, but what you can do with what you know”. Perhaps the most important difference in approach is that the emphasis in learning is not on rote memorisation but on the active use of the language learned.

Curriculum for Three Mandarin Pathways

Mandarin A (CNL): Mandarin as a first language

Students in this pathway acquired Mandarin as their first language at home and/or in schools where Mandarin was the instructional medium. English is typically their second language. Their home environment is typically Mandarin speaking.

Within the pathway, the classroom language used by both teacher and students is Mandarin. The focus for students is to further develop their skills of analysis and evaluation using a variety of Chinese literary texts, and to develop their practical and creative writing skills. Students in this pathway are strongly suggested to read sufficient Chinese books, magazines and newspapers to reinforce their literature comprehension skills. Students following this pathway will normally take IGCSE Chinese as a First Language and IB Chinese A Language and Literature or Literature for their exam courses.

Mandarin B (MSL): Learning Mandarin as A Second Language

This pathway is for heritage students who have been living out of China (or other areas where Chinese is used as an official language) or non-heritage students who have been living in China and learning Mandarin for a long time. These students are able to carry out communication tasks that are age-appropriate, but may not be fully functional in their literacy skills in Mandarin. About 90% of the classroom instructions and languages used by the teacher are in Mandarin. The focus for students in this pathway is to develop their reading and writing skills, so that they are able to understand and analyse increasingly complex written and spoken materials and assess subtleties of the language in a wide range of forms and styles. Students following this pathway normally take IGCSE Chinese as a Second Language and IB Chinese B standard level or high level exam courses.

Mandarin C (MFL): Learning Mandarin as a foreign language

This pathway is for non-native/non-heritage students. From an initial stage, the course places a greater emphasis on functional skills in listening, speaking and reading, while students in this pathway use the Wo Hui Mandarin approach and website resources to support their learning. It is recommended that students practise the skills learnt in the classroom within the wider community and in authentic language usage settings. Students following this pathway normally take IGCSE Chinese as a Foreign Language or GCSE Chinese, and IB Chinese B standard level or Chinese ab initio exam courses.

Dual Language Learning in DUCKS in China and Singapore

In our DUCKS schools in China and Singapore, Dual Language learning is a fundamental part of our student development. Our approach is based upon a range of recognised theory about how children learn language and has been developed through in-depth academic and action research by our own leaders and teachers. The programme exposes young learners to English and Mandarin in their natural learning context throughout the day rather than just through formal language opportunities. By providing an environment rich in learning opportunities, with one teacher focusing on English and a second on Mandarin, young children gain the confidence to use language with meaning rather than just through imitation.