The Mandarin Excellence Program a.k.a MEP is an intensive language study program involving the study of Mandarin Chinese. Started in 2016, the aim is to complete the course until 2024. It begins in Year 7 and continues until GCSEs and/ or A-levels. So far, over 8000 students in 75 different schools have enrolled in this course. The program includes four hours of teacher-taught lessons each week which contributes to eight hours of study per week.

In Year 7, the newly enrolled students take a trip to Oxford where they visit a Museum of Chinese artifacts, shop in a Chinese store and eat at a Chinese restaurant before finally going to an Oxford University for a Chinese lesson. The program includes a variety of activities including, in previous years, a two week trip to China. Although the last two years have been cancelled due to covid, they organised a two week online study programme in which students and teachers from China taught the British students about their culture and language. This included virtual visits to Panda enclosures and trips to street markets. 

Many choose to take Chinese for their GCSEs meaning they get five years of intensive Chinese language courses or seven if they choose to take it for A-levels. 

“It gives us the opportunity to work with people from other countries and cultures. It also helps us build our language skills.”  -Schnelle D’silva Year 10.

“Mandarin lessons are enjoyable but hard work! The teacher is nice but stern and she regularly motivates us to achieve good results and study a lot. I’ve gained a lot of Mandarin knowledge over the past few years of study and have also gained a great insight into Chinese culture. Chinese requires great determination but I definitely recommend learning it!” - Dara Lloyds Year 10.

The Chinese language is a difficult subject that requires dedication and hard-work but it’s definitely worth it, you get to make new friends and experience a new world of culture different from your own.