Discovering Chinese during lockdown

Kim's fascination with languages and love of words led her down a Mandarin-learning rabbit hole after a Netflix TV series got her hooked on the language and what it revealed about Chinese culture.

Read Kim's story

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".

Creating connections through Mandarin

Informal cultural exchanges with Chinese friends enriched Marina's university experience, leading her step by step into engaging with the Chinese language too.

Read Marina's story
A digital illustration of Marina, a smiling young woman in a yellow jumper, with speech bubbles featuring quotes from the article

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"

What are your Mandarin Aspirations?

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 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.

Mandarin Aspirations stories

Babette Radclyffe-Thomas studied Chinese at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2012.  She is now an award-winning freelance journalist who has worked at Vogue China and Prestige and written fashion and beauty columns for China Daily.  
Read Babette's story
Grace Valks, a third year Chinese student at the University of Leeds, recently joined the Business Confucius Institute team as the Mandarin Aspirations Project Assistant. We asked Grace to introduce herself by sharing her own ‘Mandarin Aspirations’ story.
Read Grace's story
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.