LEH Chinese in Focus

LEH Chinese in Focus

Learning a language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures. As a British international school based in the GBA China, LEH International School Foshan is highly aware of the importance of Chinese language skills for our students’ future academic and career development and makes Chinese an integral part of the school curriculum. 



We provide a high-quality Chinese language education to foster students’ curiosity and deepen their knowledge of the culture and society of countries and communities where Chinese is spoken. Various opportunities are offered to our students to communicate for practical purposes, learn new ways of thinking and read great literature in the Chinese language.


Chinese teaching at LEH Foshan also provides the foundation for learning further, equipping non-native speakers to study and work in a Chinese speaking environment in the future.


LEH Foshan Chinese Curriculum


1/ Key Focuses 



Students have focused on learning to speak eloquently, write beautifully, and compose elegantly in Mandarin class. Everything they do throughout the year has contributed to achieving the three aims. Firstly, students have taken the opportunities to develop declamation skills as a common practice in class. Secondly, students in Key Stage 3 practise pen calligraphy regularly every week with their calligraphy copybooks both in and out of class. Thirdly they conduct creative writing regularly and teachers give feedback diligently. 



2/ Catering for Different Language Background 


The courses on offer build upon the students’ existing Mandarin language skills and facilitate everyone to acquire a differentiated vocabulary and grammatical foundation. Based on initial assessments, they’re allocated to different classes of a certain year group, i.e. Mandarin 1st Language class, Mandarin as 2nd Language class and Mandarin as Foreign Language class. With these three course options, we cater for each individual language background.


For First Language Speakers:

Year 6/7/8 first language speakers use the state school textbooks with a focus on the development of basic skills and a global mindset; Year 9/10/11 first language speakers follow the Cambridge Chinese First Language IGCSE curriculum. It is designed for learners whose first language is Chinese to develop learners' ability to communicate clearly, accurately and effectively. They learn how to employ a wide-ranging vocabulary, use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, and develop a personal style and an awareness of the audience being addressed.


For Second Language Speakers: 

Second language speakers follow the Cambridge Mandarin Second Language IGCSE curriculum. It is designed for learners who already have a working knowledge of the language and who want to consolidate their understanding to progress their education or career. Through their study, learners can achieve a level of practical communication ideal for everyday use, which can also form the basis for further, more in-depth language study.


For Foreign Language Speakers:

Foreign language speakers follow the Cambridge Mandarin Foreign Language IGCSE curriculum. It is designed for learners who are learning Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language. The aim is to develop an ability to use the language effectively for practical communication. It also aims to offer insights into the culture of countries where Mandarin Chinese is spoken, thus encouraging positive attitudes toward language learning and towards speakers of other languages.


Year 12 – 13, A Level

The A Level Mandarin Chinese at LEH Foshan facilitates a deeper understanding of the language and linguistic traditions so that students develop an ability to communicate confidently and clearly. Successful language students gain lifelong skills, including a sound understanding of the nature of the Mandarin Chinese language and language study.


Chinese ECAs and Enrichment 

With a variety of Extra-Curricular Activities (ECAs) and performance opportunities, we seek to involve students in cultural activities and encourage them to put their Chinese skills into practice. So far, our students have taken part in Chinese declamation, pen calligraphy competition and performed in poetry recitals and short plays at End of Term Ceremony and Chinese New Year Celebration.



Set foot in Foshan, a Lingnan culture-rich city, the school does not forget to incorporate the Chinese Lingnan culture into our ECAs programme. For example, in the last school term, the local Wing Chun masters and paper cutting artists were invited to the school to hold workshops and this term there is a lion Dance ECA. We are planning to have a Chinese Short Play Club for secondary pupils and a Chines Classics Club for Prep-school children and look forward to bringing more Chinese culture into the school in the next academic year.



Make Chinese Enjoyable



1/ Make Chinese Lessons Fun


To help stimulate their studies and interest, we have been delivering Chinese lessons in a creative way. In Mandarin lessons, they have devised and performed short plays adapted from texts. They have also drawn pictures for the content they are learning and learned to sing songs related to the text. Other creative ways they have adopted to learn in class include Quizlet, Charades word guessing competitions, classroom debates, comic strips and mind maps. They have done comparison studies, comparing texts by Chinese authors and those by authors from other parts of the world, aiming to develop their global mindset.


2/ Encourage Reading



There is an increasing number of Chinese books in our library. When we are stocking the Chinese session in the library, we make sure that 1) they are related to the content of the textbooks; 2) they are suitable for their ages; 3) they are highly rated on social media; 4) they are written or published by trustworthy authors and publishing houses; 5) they have won some official awards. 


We choose books that suit their ages and language levels in terms of language complexity and the content of the books must be interesting to pupils. We also give them opportunities to try books of different genres.


3/ Home Learning 



LEH Foshan students are assigned to read for leisure at home and practise calligraphy for fun during the weekends. Parents might as well support their children by giving them some encouragement. Non-native speaker parents can help by asking their children to teach them some basic Mandarin.


Meet the Teachers


Mr Hua Yan

Head of Chinese 

Mr Yan is our Head of Chinese who had lived and taught in England for the 20 years. Previously he was Head of Chinese at Oundle and Wycombe Abbey, two of the most prestigious private schools in England. Mr Yan was among the first Chinese nationals to obtain qualified teacher status in England and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Education with research focused on student autonomy. Well-known within the Mandarin teaching community in the UK, he has authored textbooks and run training courses for teachers. Under his leadership Oundle School was granted the status of Confucius Classroom by Hanban, the Office of Chinese Language Council International. 


Q/ What are the most valuable lessons you learned from your teaching career of over 20 years and how would you apply these to LEH Foshan and help our students master the Chinese language?  


1) The best thing I’ve learned is the encouraging approach to pupils. When I teach a new class, I must develop a growth mindset among them and within myself.

2) The second thing is to create a pupil-centred environment to personalise and empower; we need to conduct pupil surveys regularly and make sure pupils’ choices and voices are heard before we plan and teach lessons. It will help greatly if we consider where the learners are, how they learn and where their passions reside. They are unique individuals; we must make sure that every pupil is fully supported and well challenged.



3) I’ve also learned that reflective practice is important. A teacher must be a learner himself. The world is evolving, and generations are never the same. We must renew our knowledge and update our methodology. 

4) I’ve learned that it’s important to work closely with parents. I believe that teachers and parents must work as a team to bring the best out of all the pupils.


Dr Chengming Xie

Chinese Language Specialist

Dr Chengming Xie is our Chinese Language Specialist. She has a PhD in Chinese Linguistics from Peking University and a Mandarin Chinese PGCE with EAL from the Institute of Education, University College London. Dr Xie taught Chinese language and literature to both native speakers and foreigners in Beijing before she relocated to the UK, where she taught Mandarin to beginners, GCSE students and A Level to Chinese heritage speakers. Dr Xie had led a Chinese language and culture club in Oxford, teaching Chinese characters and classics to both foreign and heritage learners.


Q/ How do you benefit from your PhD degree as a Chinese teacher?

Good teaching depends on good subject knowledge and excellent pedagogical skills. At LEH Foshan, we teach students how to learn as well as what to learn. The examiner board for Chinese IGCSE and A-level (Cambridge International Education) also emphasises the importance of developing metacognition knowledge in students. However, research shows that metacognition is specific to the task being undertaken. It is very hard to have knowledge about how one can learn in a subject without deep subject knowledge.

My PhD training has equipped me with solid subject knowledge, but more important, analytical and problem-solving skills specific to the Chinese language and literature. Why is the water so clear in the canal, for the freshwater comes from the springhead. I hope my expertise in Chinese linguistics could help me become the freshwater from the springhead for our students and help them develop higher-order thinking skills.