The Mandarin Aspirations Project

The aim of the BCI’s Mandarin Aspirations Project is to encourage and celebrate the learning of Chinese by sharing the motivations (why study Chinese), study experiences (challenges and rewards) and study outcomes (employability, confidence and intercultural skills) of Chinese language learners.

This video shows some highlights from guest lectures and interviews covering these three themes. On this page you can find lots more blog posts and video clips to browse!

This project provides a platform for Chinese language learners, from beginners to old hands, to share their Mandarin learning journey through different media, such as short videos, profiles or stories.

We hope that these Mandarin Aspirations stories will encourage those of you already studying Chinese, and inspire new learners to join a growing and supportive community of Chinese language enthusiasts in the UK.

Look out for updates in our emails, on Twitter and Facebook, and here on our website.

Making Mandarin skills work for you in your career

Babette Radclyffe-Thomas studied Chinese at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2012.  She is now an award-winning freelance journalist.

Read Babette's story
Babette Radclyffe-Thomas, Fashion Journalist and Chinese graduate

An 8-week investment to connect with students

Professor Gary Chambers took the BCI level 1 course to learn some basic Mandarin phrases to use with his Chinese students.

Read Gary's story
Gary wearing a suit and tie, with speech bubbles saying "I teach lots of students from China", "I just wanted to be able to say hello and a few more words and phrases", "learning Mandarin is an investment".

From painter and decorator to HSK 6 and beyond

Richard went from a student lacking confidence in his abilities to a fluent Mandarin speaker who has completed all the HSK exams and now teaches Chinese at Harrogate Grammar School.

Read Richard's story
Illustration of Richard, a young white man with a beard, and quotes saying "I have passed all the HSK exams", "Learning Chinese has been good for my mental health", and "I learned a lot from the cleaners at my workplace in China"

Meet Mandarin Aspirations Project Assistant Grace Valks

Grace, a third year Chinese student at the University of Leeds, shares her Mandarin Aspirations story.

Read Grace's story
Quotes from the article

Mandarin Aspirations profiles

Visit the blog

Emily Austin-Howell shares some thoughts on her year spent as an intern with the Business Confucius Institute team as the...


On 27 April 2022, Leeds alumnus James Halstead MCIL CL delivered a lecture about the global language service providing (LSP)...


Leeds alumna Nandini Venkata was joined by a panel of women living and working in Beijing at an online event...


Jacopo Mazzanati lived in China for five years working in the world of professional football as a coach and as...


Mandarin Aspirations Guest Lectures

Watch this talk to learn about the successful career of Leeds alumnus Guy Dru Drury MBE, Chief Representative in China for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
Watch the recording
Leeds alumna Nandini Venkata was joined by a panel of women living and working in Beijing to discuss their experiences building a network and a career in China, inspiring others interested in pursuing opportunities there.
Watch the recording
In this talk, Leeds alumnus Andrew Disbury explained how learning to speak Chinese has shaped his life, career and global outlook. Watch the recording on our Facebook page.
Watch the recording
Jake Gill, CEO of @Skritter, Jake drew from his background in Mandarin learning and teaching to provide tips and tricks to help you learn Chinese effectively in the digital age – with a particular focus on Chinese characters.
Watch the recording
Mandarin Excellence Programme Coordinator Kay McLeod shared her journey from achieving an MA in Chinese Studies to teaching and promoting Chinese in schools.
Watch clips from the talk
Leeds alumni Sean McGibney and Oliver Leach shared the story behind The Chairman’s Bao, the most comprehensive online news-based graded reader for students of Chinese.
Find out more about The Chairman's Bao