Mandarin Chinese (H): A very approachable, well-structured paper

Reaction to Leaving Cert 2022 Mandarin Chinese (Higher Level) by Yun Wu, Mandarin Chinese teacher at The Institute of Education

This was the first year that Mandarin Chinese has been examined for Leaving Certificate.

It was a very approachable, accessible, well-structured paper, that I think will encourage more students to take Mandarin Chinese for the Leaving Certificate. Someone new to the language could definitely do very well in this exam.

Students will be very happy with this paper.

Section A- Reading

Question 1 focused on Chinese nursery rhymes. Students needed to extract information about animals, seasons, opposite words, and measure words.

This was a straight-forward question and a nice start to the paper. Anyone who had studied Chinese for the past two years would have been able to answer it without too much difficulty.

Question 2 focused on the layout of an apartment. Students were asked to distinguish between different rooms, detail their functions and name two types of food cooked in the kitchen.

The layout of the question was nice and it was straight-forward to find the answers within the text. The questions were in Chinese and the answers had to be given in English. The Chinese characters were simple and very easy to read.

Question 3 was about two Chinese celebrities- movie star Bruce Lee and NBA basketball player Tao Ming.

Even if students were unfamiliar with these celebrities, the text was still easy to understand and accessible.

Students would need to have ensured they read the questions carefully here however, as four questions needed to be answered in English, and two in Chinese.

Question 4 featured a letter from Conor, an Irish student, who is writing to his Chinese friend who is travelling to Ireland. In the letter, Conor tells his friend about his studies, St. Patrick’s Day and the Irish weather.

The text was very accessible and relevant, and there was a very nice question where students had to discuss one similarity or one difference between St. Patrick’s Day and a Chinese festival. The Leaving Certificate course aims to develop language ability and cultural awareness, so this was a very nice question, and students could choose between a number of Chinese festivals such as Chinese Spring Festival or Chinese National Day.

The last part of the question focused on Chinese characters, and radicals (a component of a Chinese character). Students needed to distinguish between the Chinese characters and radicals, and give the meaning of each.

Section B- Writing (answer two questions)

There was a very nice choice of questions here and the structure was nice and clear.

In question 5 students had to answer a, b or c and each task required a 50-character answer, essentially 3 bullet points with 15-20 characters each.

Question 5a was straight-forward and simple and required students to write a short message to someone from China who is coming to Ireland for the first time.

Question 5b was also about a Chinese student who is visiting Ireland. Students had to write a short message to them asking what sort of help they would need when they arrived- language, lunch time, after school activities. This was a nice, familiar topic about normal, day-to-day school life and students would have found it very manageable.

In question 5c students had to write a sick note to their teacher, explaining why they need time off, what they will do during their time off and how long they will be out of school for.

In question 6, students had to answer a, b or c. Each task here required a 100-character answer, essentially 3 bullet points with 30-40 characters each.

In question 6a students had to write a short essay describing a typical school day.

In question 6b students had to write a short essay to introduce a friend.

In question 6c students had to write about a city they like.

All these topics were nice and relevant and students would be very familiar with them.