Tuesday 18 September 2018


The search is on to find Northern Ireland’s best non-native Mandarin speakers.

Secondary schools and colleges from across Northern Ireland are being invited to take part in the HSBC / British Council Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition – with the final taking place at The MAC, Belfast on Tuesday, November 27 2018. 

The competition is open to both groups and individuals of all abilities, with groups performing a short song or drama that must in some way be related to China.

The winners of the Northern Ireland heat will then be put forward to the UK-wide heat in the British Museum, London in February 2019 – with the overall winner, winning a week in Bejing. 

This is the second time the competition has taken place in Northern Ireland and is supported by the Confucius Institute at Ulster University.  Last year pupils from Lumen Christi College, Loreto Grammar School and Rathmore Grammar School all got through to the final at the British Museum in London.

The competition aims to encourage interest in Mandarin Chinese language and China's culture, with Mandarin ranked as one of the most vital languages to the UK over the next twenty years.

A report entitled ‘Languages for the Future’ published by the British Council, highlighted that only 1 per cent of UK adults can speak Chinese even though that same study revealed Mandarin to be the second most vital language for the UK’s future

Speaking about the competition was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland.

He said: “Mandarin Chinese is one of the languages that matter most to the UK’s future prosperity. With more than one billion Mandarin Chinese speakers in the world, it is vital that more of our young people learn this valuable language in order to live in an increasingly connected society and compete in a global economy.”

“The standards during last year’s Northern Ireland heat were exceptionally high, and we are looking forward to seeing more pupils gain confidence, learn more about the language and ultimately shine in this year’s competition. 

“We are also really pleased to be working with the Confucius Institute at Ulster University again to help us reach out to schools across Northern Ireland who are already teaching Mandarin.”

Schools looking to apply to the competition have until Friday, October 5 2018 to get their applications in. To apply, or for further guidance / details on eligibility, visit: https://nireland.britishcouncil.org or email HSBC2017competition@britishcouncil.org for more information.

Notes to Editor

Photo caption: Loreto Grammar School pupils (from left) Chelsea McElroy, Aoife Harvey and Niamh Doherty took part in the first-ever Northern Ireland heat of the HSBC/ British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition in 2017 at the MAC in Belfast, with Chelsea making it through to the final of the  Intermediate’ category at the British Museum in London. The competition is back for 2018 to find Northern Ireland’s next Mandarin stars and will take place on November 27 2018. Schools looking to apply to the competition have until Friday, October 5 2018 to get their applications in. To apply, or for further guidance / details on eligibility, visit: https://nireland.britishcouncil.org or email HSBC2017competition@britishcouncil.org for more information.

For further information please contact: 

Claire McAuley, Communications Manager: T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Claire.McAuley@britishcouncil.org Twitter: @BCouncil_NI, Facebook – www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland 

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.  For more information, please visit: http://nireland.britishcouncil.org