Tuesday 04 February 2020


Pupils from Lumen Christi College are bidding to be crowned the UK’s best non-native Mandarin speakers tomorrow (February 5, 2010).

They have reached the grand final of the British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition and will go head-to-head with 42 other post-primary schools from across the UK at the Victory Services Club in London.

The Lumen Christi students will compete in a number of categories – with Anitta Sibin qualifying for the Beginners’ category, Leo Doherty in the Intermediate, and in the Group Performance section; pupils Matthew Rodgers, Niamh Fleming, Grace Martin, Vibhav Nthanankalva and Owen McFadden will take to the stage.

This is not the first time Lumen Christi College pupils have made it through to the final – with previous students qualifying for London in 2018. 

Speaking about the competition was Lumen Christi Vice Principal, Dr Marie Ferris.

She said: “The students are very excited about the opportunity – they can’t wait to represent the school on such a big stage and are looking forward to a trip to London.

“They’ve been putting in the extra hours since they found out they were through to the final - fitting study around their exams and Christmas.

“I must pay tribute to their Mandarin teachers, Olivia and Sunflower from the Confucius Institute, who have worked so hard with them. As a school, we have been part of the Confucius project since 2014 and it’s created so many opportunities for our pupils, helping them learn more about Chinese language and culture.

“We are delighted to have pupils once again in the final and wish them all the best for Wednesday.”

As the most spoken language in the world, Mandarin is recognised as a valuable skill for young people in the UK to acquire. 77 per cent of British business leaders surveyed in 2018 said that speaking Mandarin will give school leavers a career advantage. Research by the British Council has found that Mandarin is the second most important foreign language for the UK’s influence on the global stage.

Speaking ahead of the competition, Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland, 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.”

“Learning languages such as Mandarin also provide pupils with a rich insight into a vibrant and different culture, helping to increase intercultural understanding. 

“Congratulations to Lumen Christi for getting this far, it’s testament to the hard work the pupils and teachers have put in throughout the past year. I’ve no doubt that they’ll act as great ambassadors for Northern Ireland and perform to the best of their ability.”

The final of the Mandarin Speaking Competition will take place in London on 5 February 2020.

The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation. For more information on the HSBC/ British Council Mandarin speaking competition, visit nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI.

Notes to Editor

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. www.britishcouncil.org