Monday 18 September 2017


The search is on to find Northern Ireland’s best young Mandarin speakers.

Secondary schools 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 November 28. 

The national speaking competition is now in its fifteenth year, but this will be the first time it has ever taken place in Northern Ireland, with this heat supported by the Confucius Institute at Ulster University. 

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 2018 – with the overall winner, winning a week in Bejing. 

The competition aims to encourage interest in the 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, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland.

He said: “It’s great to see this competition in Northern Ireland for the first time. Mandarin Chinese matters — both to the UK's future prosperity and to the personal career opportunities of those who speak it. With the increasing influence China has on the world economy, we need to prepare our young people for life in a globalised, multicultural society.  

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

“Knowledge of Mandarin and Chinese culture among people in the UK will create a deeper mutual understanding between our communities and give young people the intercultural skills necessary for the future.”

Schools looking to apply to the competition have until Friday, October 6 2017 to get their applications in. To apply, or for further guidance / details on eligibility, visit: Or email for more information.



Notes to Editor

For further information, please contact:

Claire McAuley T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Twitter: @BCouncil_NI or Facebook (


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 65 million people directly and 731 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.