Wednesday 25 February 2015


Ten talented students from four UK schools are preparing for the trip of a lifetime to China after winning the final of the HSBC/British Council Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition – which was held at the British Museum on Monday 9 February.

As part of their prize, the winners will walk along China’s Great Wall, explore Beijing's Forbidden City, and enjoy cultural activities with Chinese students at local schools.

Now in its twelfth year, the national competition aims to encourage greater interest in Chinese language and culture - vital to the UK’s future prosperity. Chinese is already spoken by more than a billion people worldwide, with China recognised as the world’s second biggest economy.

The students competed in either the Individual Language Ability or Group Performance section. In the Individual section, contestants gave a short presentation in Mandarin, translated sentences from English into Mandarin and were tested on their knowledge of China and Chinese culture. In the Group Performance section, groups of between four and six students performed a piece of drama in Chinese – involving imaginative performances and costumes. The judging panel was made up of native and non-native speakers of Mandarin, from a variety of backgrounds.

The 2015 winners are:

Individual (Beginner):  Clem Marshall, Alexandra Park School

Individual (Intermediate): George Hunter, Ponteland High School

Individual (Advanced): Anthony Cullen, Ibstock Place School

Group Performance: Oundle School

Vicky Gough, Schools Adviser at the British Council said: “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 give them the advantage they need to live in a global society and compete in a global economy.

“The judges were extremely impressed with the high standards in this years’ competition and by the wealth of talent and creativity on show. We hope the winners enjoy their time in China and use it as a stepping stone to learn more about Chinese language and culture.”

Lorraine Thomas, Senior Manager Global Education and UK Community Investment at HSBC said: “It was terrific watching young people share their learning of Mandarin Chinese through acting and speaking. The skills that they have learned are truly inspiring. Learning the language has given them a key global skill which will help businesses thrive, and we hope the competition will continue to inspire future generations to get involved.”

The British Council and HSBC have joined forces to run the competition since 2003. The national competition is aimed at students who are non-native speakers, who have started learning Mandarin Chinese recently. To date, over 2,500 young people have entered the Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition and it has helped inspire hundreds of young people to further their language studies - some going on to graduate in Mandarin Chinese.

To help children across the UK celebrate Chinese New Year and learn more about Chinese language and culture, the British Council and HSBC have also just launched the ‘Year of the Sheep Primary Education Pack’ which has been sent to every primary school in the country. It is available online here:

Notes to Editor

For more information about the competition, or to arrange interviews, please contact Kristen McNicoll in the British Council Press Office on 020 7389 4967 or

This year, Chinese New Year’s Day was on 19 February, and marked the beginning of the Year of the Sheep. It is also sometimes known as the Year of the Goat or the Ram.

·         The British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally. 

For more information, please visit: You can also keep in touch with the British Council through and

·         HSBC Bank plc

HSBC serves 16.1 million customers in the UK and employs approximately 43,500 people.  In the UK, HSBC offers a complete range of personal, premier and private banking services including bank accounts and mortgages. It also provides commercial banking for small to medium businesses and corporate and institutional banking services. HSBC Bank plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc.          

·         The HSBC Group

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from over 6,200 offices in over 74 countries and territories in Asia, Europe, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,729bn at 30 September 2014, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.

·         HSBC Global Education Programme

At HSBC, we believe that education is key to prosperity. Education is the most significant focus of the Group’s community investment programme. Globally we invest US$50 million a year in education projects and thousands of HSBC employees get involved. Together, we help young people fulfil their potential by: providing access to education, developing life-skills and entrepreneurship, and promoting international and cultural understanding.