Alicja Wladyslawska from St Ninians High School, Mandarin Speaking Competition Winner 2019
Alicja Wladyslawska from St Ninians High School with British Council staff Tanya Ramone (l) and John Rolfe (r) ©

Photograph by Mark Hakansson

Alicja Wladyslawska from St Ninians High School has won a trip to China after winning a national Mandarin speaking competition.

Alicja scooped the Individual Beginners Plus prize at the final of the Mandarin Speaking Competition which was held at the British Museum in London on 6 February. Her fellow pupil Jagoda also celebrated success by winning third place in the advanced category.

The competition, run annually by the British Council since 2003, drew 326 contestants from 85 secondary schools from both state and independent sector across the UK for its heats. In the final, 114 pupils from 39 schools took part. 

All the winners will take part in a week-long trip to China, visiting sights in Beijing and meeting local students through the British Council in China.

Pupils at the final 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.

Writing on her school's blog Alicja said, "For the 2019 competition, I was intensely focused on winning. With the help of my teacher, Mrs Zhou, I was motivated to work extremely hard and do my best. She reached out to many friends and colleagues in means of letting me get the best help I can and potentially win the competition... I was up against many private and prestigious schools, but with hard work and help from my teacher I managed to win first prize!!! My parents were very pleased with my achievement and are very thankful for the hard work of Mrs. Zhou put into my studies in Mandarin, and that the school gave me this amazing opportunity to participate."

As the most spoken language in the world, Mandarin Chinese is vital for the UK’s place in the world. Recent British Council research has highlighted that Mandarin is the top non-European language in its report Languages for the Future.

Since 2003, over 3,500 young people have entered the competition, inspiring them to further their language studies - some going on to graduate in Mandarin Chinese.

The British Council has also just launched the ‘Year of the Pig Primary Education Pack’ to help children across the UK celebrate Chinese New Year and learn more about China and its culture.

The full list of the 2019 British Council Mandarin Speaking competition winners:

  • Individual (Beginner):  Eve Flood, Thornhill College, Derry – Londonderry
  • Individual (Beginners Plus): Alicja Wladyslawska, St Ninians High School, Glasgow
  • Individual (Intermediate): Elliot Heywood, Highgate School, London
  • Individual (Intermediate Plus): Calum Harri, Latymer Upper School, London
  • Individual (Advanced): Rhiannon Durant, Sevenoaks School, Kent (wasn’t there to collect award).
  • Group Performance: Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall

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