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Mandarin (MFL)

Ni hao! At Abacus we teach Mandarin to all children from Reception to Year 6. It forms part of our curriculum and is taught weekly in all classes by our specialist Mandarin teacher, Wei Hinton. 

Through these weekly lessons our pupils learn to speak Mandarin and with the support of pinyin will begin to read and write words, phrases and sentences in Mandarin. We also celebrate Chinese festivals, such as Chinese New Year and offer a special food menu and activities on that day.

At Abacus, we aim to ensure that all of our pupils leave us able to hold basic conversations in Mandarin and be inspired to continue their studies into secondary school, and maybe even visit China one day! 

Mandarin curriculum vision statement 

Children at Abacus are linguists and explorers!

Mandarin has been a key feature of our school since it was founded and all children learn Mandarin from their first week in Reception!

At Abacus, we believe that learning a foreign language is one key to opening up the wider world to all of our pupils. Learning a language enriches the curriculum, provides excitement, enjoyment and challenge for children and teachers, helps to create enthusiastic learners and develops positive attitudes to language learning throughout life. Learning Mandarin from Reception opens up the world to our children, breaks down borders and allows pupils to dream bigger, foster curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world.

Our curriculum aims to enable pupils to communicate in another language by empowering our students to understand and respond in Mandarin expressing their ideas and thoughts through songs, games and conversation. We focus on developing their competences in listening, reading, speaking and writing building up their independence and self-confidence over seven years.

We aim to develop their respect for others both in our communities and around the world. We endeavour to build their cultural capital and widen their horizons through a range of class activities, cultural events and trips.

The curriculum is enriched through themed days, participating in Chinese celebrations, themed lunches and visiting a Chinese restaurant in KS2.

Mandarin progression and implementation

Mandarin is taught weekly by class teachers using the programme Languagenut. Mandarin is taught on Fridays.

Children learn to speak Mandarin alongside being exposed to reading with the support of pinyin characters. Children are taught the four main tones (First tone: ma1 or mā, Second tone: ma2 or má, Third tone: ma3 or mǎ and Fourth tone: ma4 or mà). Throughout their studies, children have opportunities and write Chinese characters. Children are also taught about the culture of China, learning about Chinese schools, homes and lifestyle. In Years 5 and 6 children learn how to write Chinese calligraphy with more accuracy.

At Abacus, we aim to ensure that all of our pupils leave us able to hold basic conversations in Mandarin and be inspired to continue their studies into secondary school and maybe even visit China one day! 

Please see below the long-term map of topics studied in Mandarin. 

At the bottom of the page is an example of a term plan spanning from Reception to Year 6. These plans will be adapted yearly to take into account changes in holidays and special occasions (e.g. Winter Olympics, Chinese new year).


Children participate in weekly Mandarin sessions. Children have a whole-class focus group where they learn key vocabulary and simple sentences using flashcards, songs and games. This learning is then consolidated through short focus group sessions.

Children in EYFS learn:

  • family names
  • how to count to 10
  • colours
  • animals
  • food
  • how to say their own name

Home learning resources

The following are online resources to help support your child's learning at home.

Mandarin Quizlet

This is a Mandarin account exclusively for our school. When clicking the direct link above, you will find four folders that containing vocabulary. For each set of words, it comes with English and Mandarin pronunciation, flash cards, games, as well as other activities. Great resource for student of any age!

Chinese characters

Click on the links below for some useful videos about Chinese characters.

ABCs of Chinese - An introduction to Chinese characters.

Radical Mandarin - Help with learning character radicals.

Chinese games

This BBC website - Vocabulary words for different topics like colours or family words. Each word also comes with pronunciation. There are also games and videos to watch. Especially good for young learners.

How do I learn Chinese website - Interactive learning and games for learning Chinese.

Digital Dialects - Games for kids to play in Chinese in various subjects such as fruits, vegetables, and months etc.

This page on - Technically not a game page, but it has a good number of vocabulary separated into categories with audio. Pressing on a character or a picture to hear the sound can certainly be made into a game.

Chinese songs

This YouTube channel features selections of the most popular children's songs and rhymes in China. Some even comes with English and Pinyin lyrics.

Online learning tools

The MDBG Online Dictionary - Information about all characters in a word. Listen to the pronunciation and show example sentences.

Animated Character Strokes - This is so simple and easy. Just type or copy a Chinese character into the blank box and watch the word come alive stroke by stroke.