Bohunt School student through to Chinese Speaking national final


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A student from Bohunt School in Liphook is through to the national final of the British Council and HSBC’s Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition – where she is hoping to win a trip to Beijing.

After impressing the judges with her language skills at one of two regional heats, held in London in December, Alicia Sear, age 13 will now compete in the beginner category in the grand final at the British Museum on 9 February 2015.

The nationwide competition aims to encourage greater interest in Chinese language and culture – which is vital to the UK’s future prosperity. Chinese is already spoken by more than a billion people worldwide and is gaining greater and greater importance, with China being the world’s second biggest economy. However, the British Council’s Languages for the Future report in 2013 showed that only 1% of UK adults can speak Mandarin.

The competition is aimed at students who are non-native speakers, who have started learning Mandarin Chinese recently. Over the past 12 years, it has helped to inspire hundreds of young people to further their Mandarin studies – some going on to graduate in Mandarin Chinese. The lucky winners from each category will visit China in 2015, where they will have the opportunity to put their Mandarin to good use and experience Chinese culture first-hand.

The British Council and HSBC have joined forces to run the competition since 2003. The British Council builds relationships for the UK through English, Education and Culture, and already links thousands of pupils and teachers in the UK and China. Globally, HSBC invests US$50 million a year in education projects and thousands of HSBC employees get involved through volunteering. Together, HSBC helps young people fulfil their potential by: providing access to education, developing life-skills and entrepreneurship, and promoting international and cultural understanding. Since 2000, HSBC has supported over 1,000 UK schools host teachers from China to help children learn more about the language and Chinese culture.

Neil Strowger, Headteacher of Bohunt School, said: “Alicia is one of over 200 students at Bohunt who is learning Mandarin. Furthermore, many of them are learning it through an immersion method where a third of their timetable is delivered in Chinese. We are very proud of Alicia’s success, which is testimony to the students’ enjoyment of the subject, their hard work and the high quality of teaching that they are receiving. Further recognition of our innovations with regards to language teaching can be found in our ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted report, which commented on the impact they were having across the whole school, not just in languages.”

Vicky Gough, Schools Adviser at the British Council said: “For the UK to continue to prosper in the global marketplace, we need more of our young people to develop their language skills to work confidently around the world and in multinational organisations here in the UK. With China now the world’s second biggest economy, there are few more important partners for us in this respect. A good understanding of Chinese language and culture will give young Brits the advantage they need to live in a global society and compete in a global economy – it is fantastic to see so many talented young people already choosing to learn Mandarin Chinese and bringing their skills to this competition.”

Lorraine Thomas, Senior Manager Global Education and UK Community Investment at HSBC said:

“HSBC Global Research predicts that China will become the world’s largest economy by 2050. Learning Mandarin Chinese and understanding Chinese culture will be invaluable; helping us build connections with China, and increase cross-border business and trade in the future. The competition highlights the importance of cross-cultural understanding and gives young people from the UK an opportunity to develop and improve their Chinese language skills. We are delighted to continue supporting the competition and encouraging young people to learn about China.”

To interview the school or for images, please contact Philip Avery, Associate Headteacher: T: 01428 724 324, E:

For more information about the competition, please contact Kristen McNicoll in the British Council Press Office on 0207 389 4967 or

Notes to Editors:

About Bohunt School:

Bohunt School is a mixed 11-16 School with more than 1200 students on roll. It is the state school of choice for the local area and draw students from the surrounding region, including the counties of Surrey and West

Sussex. In 2013 they were rated as Outstanding in all categories by Ofsted and in 2014 were named ‘Overall School of the Year’ by the Times Educational Supplement. Due to their heritage as a Specialist Language College their curriculum maintains a strong international flavour, including immersion language teaching in Mandarin and French. They are a busy and vibrant school with high expectations and aspirations for all members of the learning community.

About 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 7,000 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 publically-funded grant provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover which  was £781m in 2012/13. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, 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

About HSBC:

For the latest updates, visit the UK Press Office social media newsroom:

HSBC Bank plc: HSBC serves 16.1 million customers in the UK and employs approximately 50,000 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.

HSBC Holdings plc

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 6,900 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,721bn at 30 September 2012, the HSBC Group is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.

HSBC Global Education Programme:
HSBC has been involved with education projects throughout its history. Globally, we invest US$50 million a year in education projects and thousands of HSBC employees get involved through volunteering. In the UK, HSBC donates £14 million to help over 41,000 young people a year, supporting 12 schemes and providing thousands of employee volunteering opportunities.