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 - over 90% 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.

Wohui Mandarin

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. We discovered that Mandarin as a foreign language is a relatively young subject, and thus worked to develop a fundamentally different model of learning for non-native students – Wo Hui Mandarin. Wo Hui, meaning “I can”, is an innovative approach that at its core, recognises that learning to speak and write Mandarin are two distinct tasks. We allow students to master new sounds of spoken and new graphical forms of written Mandarin simultaneously but independently of each other. Wo Hui Mandarin uses a communicative approach that separates listening/speaking and reading/writing content, while utilising technology to enable student-centered learning and empowering students in what they can do with what they know.

Mandarin Pathways

Mandarin A (CNL)

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)

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)

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.