The International Baccalaureate offers three educational programmes for children aged 3–19 and is one of the most prestigious and well-known academic qualifications in the world.
Why take an IB in Chinese?
The IB qualification is accepted as an entry requirement for thousands of universities worldwide, including many in China. Taking an IB in Chinese is an ideal way of gaining an academically prestigious qualification that also offers real quality in terms of syllabus and teaching (schools must register for IB World School Status before teaching the subject to exam level). The IB is rapidly gaining popularity in China: there are now 54 IB World Schools in China offering one or more of the three IB programmes.
The overall programme is split into three core areas, but students can only study Mandarin Chinese as part of the Diploma Programme. The Diploma Programme, for students aged 16 to 19, is a demanding two-year curriculum that meets the needs of highly motivated students, and leads to a qualification that is recognized by leading universities around the world.
Mandarin Chinese can be studied in the IB Diploma as one of the 2 languages that form part of the overall syllabus. Depending on the students’ experience and proficiency, it can be studied at one of three levels:
- Ab Initio – for beginners who have no previous experience of Mandarin. Standard level only.
- Language B – for students who have had some previous experience of learning Mandarin. This can be taken as either a higher level or a standard level.
- Language A2 – students who have a high level of competence in the language they have chosen. These courses include both language and literature elements and can be taken at higher or standard level.
Students taking Chinese as a first language will sit the IBDP Chinese A1 exam at either Standard (SL) or Higher Level (HL). This course is taught in Chinese only and requires students to carry out in-depth study of both original Chinese and translated literature including poems, prose, short stories and plays. Apart from writing essays, students also have to give written comments and oral reports during the exam. This requires a relatively high level of language ability. Students with lower ability should consider taking Chinese as a second language in the IBDP.
Students taking Chinese as a second language can choose between three different courses – Chinese Language A2 (SL/HL), Chinese Language B (SL/HL) and Ab initio Chinese Language (SL only). The A2 course is designed for higher ability students who wish to be awarded an IB bilingual diploma, and areas of study include both literature and culture. Apart from the study of Chinese literature, A2 students have to be familiar with cultural issues such as the media, future developments, as well as global and social issues. The A2 course also emphasises students’ ability to compare and analyse different types of writing, write essays and carry out spoken analysis. In comparison, the Chinese Language B course concentrates more on practical language usage, rather than high language ability. The course is based around language learning and is aimed at students of average ability, with emphasis being placed on students’ reading, writing and speaking skills. For students who have only studied Chinese language at a basic level, the Ab initio Chinese Language course is more suitable. This course only requires students to have a basic grasp of Chinese vocabulary and grammar, and the exam tests basic skills in listening, reading, speaking and writing.