Year of the Rooster: a chance to learn about Chinese culture

Friday 27 Jan 2017

Chinese New Year – which takes place this weekend – will feature in a new GCSE in Chinese from exam board AQA. This is part of a drive to boost young people’s understanding of Chinese culture, as well as language.

Under our plans to help young people in the UK better connect with the world’s second-biggest economy, students will learn about the annual celebrations, along with other festivals and customs. They’ll also learn how to speak in Chinese about social media, technology and the environment.

The new GCSE will equip students with a sound grasp of the Chinese language, including vocabulary that lets them carry out useful tasks, like arranging travel or social events. Reading exams will include literary texts from a range of historical and contemporary Chinese literature.

Judith Rowland-Jones, AQA’s Head of Languages, said: “Chinese New Year is a huge cultural event celebrated across the globe. Our new Chinese GCSE reflects this interest in Chinese culture and the growing demand for Chinese speakers. Language and culture go hand in hand, so it’s not simply enough to speak someone’s language – you have to be able to connect with them culturally too. That’s why a Chinese GCSE must be about much more than words.”

Recent research by the British Council showed that only 1% of people in the UK can speak Chinese well enough to hold a conversation. This is despite it being the world's most widely-spoken language, with more than 800 million first-language speakers. China overtook Japan in 2011 to become the world’s second largest economy, and is a growing market for UK businesses. UK exports to China have more than doubled since 2010.

We have submitted the draft plans for the new qualification – for first teaching in September 2017 – to the regulator Ofqual for accreditation.