A Level Chinese is a step up from previously studied Chinese. Having A Level Chinese tuition can really excel your learning and understanding of the subject.
There are 1.12 billion speakers of Mandarin Chinese across the world. Chinese culture is famed for its pantheon of great scientists and artists, and China’s economy is anticipated to become the world’s largest by the end of this decade. A Level Chinese builds on the grammar and vocabulary taught at GCSE, while introducing students to the unique challenges and pleasures of studying culture – namely literature, film, and current affairs – in another language. In addition to the practical benefits and cachet of being proficient in another language, students and university graduates of Chinese also enjoy an advantage in the job market: proficient Chinese is an asset on any CV. This is an A Level for anyone intending to pursue the humanities, as well as those with an interest in China or linguistics.
It’s important to identify which exam board your child’s school is following for A Level Chinese as they do vary. For example, some exam boards structure oral examinations differently. Exam boards also diverge in their prescribed cultural topics. Having some knowledge of exam boards is great information to give to your A Level Chinese Tutor. This will help them tailor their lessons with your child, to include relevant syllabus content.
The main exam boards for A Level Chinese are:
Though syllabuses and prescribed topics and texts do vary, students of A Level Chinese are generally expected to gain confidence and demonstrate prowess in various registers and applications of the language. Your child will also be encouraged to explore and research important and striking elements of Chinese culture from the past and present.
Candidates are required to critically analyse a text; in terms of how the language’s syntax fundamentally functions and in terms of why writers make lexical and syntactic choices for stylistic effect. Students must also extract and explain pertinent information from a text, whether it is plain everyday usage, journalism, or something more literary.
Candidates are required to translate sentences and passages into both English and Chinese. Candidates are also required to produce clear and succinct prose in multiple registers. They must demonstrate a grasp of grammar and a broad vocabulary- be it to answer a simple factual question, or to develop a considered response to an argument or cultural topic in an essay. Candidates are required to respond to questions on prescribed literature and films in discursive and persuasive prose.
Candidates are required to distill key takeaways from an audio passage and respond in clear and succinct English and Chinese.
Candidates are required to understand and respond to examiner prompts with appropriate content in an appropriate register. Your child must also discuss one or two prescribed topics with an examiner; presenting ideas, justifying opinions, and considering new perspectives in clear, accurate, and interesting Chinese. Most importantly, they are required to give a presentation on a research topic of their choosing. Candidates are required to submit in English at least 6 takeaways from their research before the interview.
The foundation of your child’s success at Chinese A Level will come from a solid understanding of grammar and a bank of interesting and varied vocabulary. This understanding will come in part from the fundamentals taught at GCSE; however, it is important that your child doesn’t focus on the cultural component of the A Level exam at the expense of their language skills. Ultimately, the discursive cultural topics are examined in order to give your child the opportunity to showcase more complex Chinese with advanced constructions and specialist vocabulary.
It is important to continue to build your child’s confidence and familiarity with the language and culture through exposing them to as much spoken Mandarin or Cantonese as possible. This exposure could be in the form of travel or simply listening to the radio for 15 minutes every day. While speaking Chinese may be uncomfortable for some at first, practising everyday conversation topics with a native speaker or qualified tutor can help candidates really distinguish themselves from the rest of the field. This is particularly evident in A Level oral exams where candidates are required to present and discuss topics in considerably more depth than at GCSE.
For the cultural component of the A Level, it is helpful if your child finds a research topic that they find genuinely interesting. This enthusiasm comes across in the oral section of the exam, and also makes it more likely that they will retain information that they can apply in the written section of the exam.
So, to do well you’re A Level Chinese Tutor will spend a lot of time in the run up to the exam going through past papers. Going through past papers means your A Level Chinese Tutor can help your child master each style of exam question. This will help your child to obtain higher marks.
As a parent, you need to understand how your child’s A Level Chinese exams will be marked. This is so that you know how to help them to obtain the best mark that they can achieve. All the exam boards publish detailed guidance on what they are looking for, including specimen marked answers. The examiner will be giving a specific number of marks for predetermined responses to each question.
Your child needs to know exactly what the examiner wants from them in each style of assessment. They then need to learn how to ‘tick the boxes’ on the mark scheme to ensure they pick up the most marks they can. Learning different exam question styles will be an essential part of your child’s time with their A Level Chinese tutor.
It is important that your child allows enough time for revision process. They need to their work properly. You’re A Level Chinese tutor will have a structured revision plan by the January of their exam year.
Students should actively revise key grammar , as well as vocabulary, connectives, and opinions. Chinese revision can also be passive: playing a Chinese show (e.g. 康熙来了) or podcast at the breakfast table or in the car can help your child familiarise themself with common Chinese speech patterns or structures. Regularly reading simple Chinese novellas and news articles can improve comprehension speed, introduce new and impressive vocabulary, and prepare them for further study. Ultimately, towards exam season, doing past papers can help your child familiarise themself with common styles of question, and the particular time pressures of an exam.
Before exam season, make sure your child has their notes in order! It is often helpful to check off notes against the requirement of a syllabus as the year goes on. Once you’re both confident that your child has covered and noted the whole syllabus, they can independently start to make revision notes and mind maps based on things such as vocabulary modules or cultural topics. The skills developed in this re-noting and reformulating are very helpful for planning and practising common discursive structures.
Before exam season, it is also important to liaise with teachers about any material that your child is finding difficult. The more notice you give them before exams, the more likely it is that they’ll be able to make time to offer support and go over tricky topics.
Throughout the academic year and revision period it is helpful to think about how your child learns. Do they like the pressure of a memory test or flashcards? Or is mapping out key ideas helpful? Maybe they like challenging themselves to write everything they know about a topic on one side of A4? Or talking things over with a parent, sibling, or their A Level Chinese tutor? We all learn differently, so it is good to be aware how best your child learns.
According to a Department for Education assessment released on 30 September 2021, “exam boards will provide advance information about the focus of the content of the exams for all GCSE, AS and A level subjects… for the summer 2022 exams”. This information will be released by 7 February 2022. If the information is released sooner than 7 February, DfE will give schools and students “at least a week’s notice”.
Even after navigating the demands of GCSEs, students can feel immense pressure around the time of public exams and it is part of your job as a parent to help them navigate this. On a positive note, this can be a time of great personal growth for teenagers, as they specialise in academic interests, sustain hard work over many months and push through exam nerves. Talk to your child about managing their emotions and introduce important elements of self care, such as sufficient sleep and good nutrition.
The best way to support your child through their A Level Chinese is to give them the tools and skills to succeed. Some targeted intervention with an experienced tutor can make all the difference. Our A Level tutors are experienced, qualified teachers, Heads of Department and Examiners who know the A Level Chinese syllabuses back to front. They can teach your child in the manner they learn best, explain the latest mark schemes, coach unusual pronunciations, and dramatically improve their exam technique. Please do get in touch.
Though syllabuses and prescribed topics and texts do vary, students of A Level Chinese are generally expected to gain confidence and demonstrate prowess in various registers and applications of the language. This includes reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Your child will also be encouraged to explore and research important and striking elements of Chinese culture from the past and present.
The foundation of your child’s success at Chinese A Level will come from a solid understanding of grammar and a bank of interesting and varied vocabulary. Your tutor will help you understand the mark scheme by reviewing past papers and making a quality revision plan.
It’s important to identify which exam board your child’s school is following for A Level Chinese, as they do vary. For example, some exam boards structure oral examinations differently. Exam boards also diverge in their prescribed cultural topics. Having some knowledge of exam boards is great information to give to your A Level Chinese Tutor. This will help them tailor their lessons with your child, to include relevant syllabus content.
The main exam boards for A Level Chinese are: