Chinese Programme

“From the moment they arrive at Wellington, our department ensures that each pupil is given the ideal learning environment to develop a deep understanding of both the language of Mandarin and its cultural significance. From the delivery of classroom lessons, to their involvement in our extensive CCA programme and excursions, every department member works tirelessly and seamlessly together to support our pupils’ all-round development.”

Helena Hicks, Head of Chinese Studies

Chinese Programme

Overview of the Chinese Curriculum 

Chinese is not just a core subject at Wellington – it is a vital element of our ongoing success story. Although English is the official language of our curriculum, Chinese is taught as a core subject throughout the College, with equal weighting to English and mathematics. After preparatory grounding in Chinese during Prep School, we offer it as a first, second or foreign language at IGCSE and then IB Chinese A, Chinese B and Mandarin Ab initio course.

Like all subjects, language studies can be broken down into sequences of learnable skills. Each set of skills is entirely necessary, and each must be learned (in sequence) before the next set of skills can be acquired.

In years 1 to 9 we use four levels of attainment – beginnerfoundationintermediate, and higher – to allow us to easily identify any pupil’s prior knowledge and set them accordingly. These levels can be used to describe what a pupil already knows and, more importantly, what he or she needs to learn next, and can be used to describe pupils who are foreign-language learners, second-language learners or first-language learners alike.

It is important to understand that there is no difference between first-language learners, second-language learners or foreign-language learners of the same level in terms of what they already know or in terms of what they need to learn next. The difference will be found instead in how quickly those learners acquire the skills needed to reach the next level. A pupil joining the College with no Chinese language skills at all (a beginner) may take several years to reach foundation level (if the pupil is very young) or only a few terms (if they are older or particularly able).

We therefore do not stream pupils according to their status as first-language, second-language or foreign-language learners. In all likelihood, first-language and second-language learners will populate the higher sets, but there is no reason why an exceptionally gifted foreign-language learner could not be in the same class. One of the key elements of the Wellington ethos is that we produce global citizens – dividing children into classes based solely on their ethnicity is quite contrary to this ambition.

Pupils will not remain in static classes. As pupils gain more knowledge, a beginner class will automatically become a foundation class, then an intermediate class and so on. Only those pupils who enter the College at higher level are likely to remain in the same named set – the emphasis being on broadening and enriching their already strong language skills.

When pupils enter year 10, their final year 9 level (or the level they enter the college with) will inform our decision regarding the most suitable IGCSE course to study for. In general, beginner and foundation level pupils will commence the IGCSE Foreign Language course. Intermediate level pupils will usually commence the IGCSE Second Language course. Higher level pupils will almost always progress to the IGCSE First Language course. Pupils who join year 10 with no experience of the Chinese language at all will not usually be able to begin IGCSE studies, but can benefit from the many other enrichment activities we provide based on Chinese history and culture.

When pupils enter year 12, a combination of their IGCSE course and final grade will inform our decision regarding the most appropriate IB course to study for. Typically, beginners will progress to the IB Ab Initio course. Those who complete the IGCSE Foreign Language or IGCSE Second Language courses will progress to the IB Language B course (at either the Standard or Higher level). Finally, those who complete the IGCSE First Language course will invariably progress to the IB Language A course, again selecting either the Standard or Higher levels. Pupils who join year 12 with no experience of the Chinese language at all will not usually be able to begin IB studies, but can benefit from the many other enrichment activities we provide based on Chinese history and culture.


Years 7-9 | Chinese culture studies as a part of the Chinese Curriculum

At the end of year 6, those pupils who have studied Chinese as a First Language (or as a Second Language at a higher level) can choose to take Chinese culture studies in years 7, 8 and 9 instead of a modern foreign language such as French or Spanish. From year 7 onwards, the fortnightly time allocation for Chinese lessons is less than for younger year groups, so this course can be particularly useful for pupils wishing to supplement the other timetabled Chinese lessons. Click HERE for details.


CCA programme and cultural events

Our daily CCA programme is also designed to support an appreciation and understanding of Chinese, as it includes a wide range of Chinese cultural and linguistic activities. Our teachers work with the wider Wellington community to encourage a greater understanding of Chinese culture by organising a yearly cycle of events including, amongst many other things, school-wide preparations for the Chinese New Year celebrations, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.



CCA Programme




Expeditions and Trips