UK: A flexible Chinese accreditation- Our guide to Asset Languages Mandarin Chinese

What is Asset Languages?  The Asset Languages assessment scheme is for language learners of all ages and abilities that can be used with primary and secondary school children. 

Asset Languages is the assessment scheme for the UK National Languages Ladder.  The Languages Ladder, is one of three overarching aims of the National Languages Strategy. The scheme endorses achievement in language skills at all levels of competence for all ages in a wide range of languages. The Languages Ladder is designed to assess progress across all four skills – Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Although assessment is organised by single skill, it is unlikely that learners will only progress in one skill area. Many will use the Ladder to assess all four skills as part of an integrated learning experience.

Who is behind Asset Languages? OCR Qualifications, a leading awarding body.

How does it work?  Students are assessed on the basis of ‘Can Do’ statements of the DCSF Languages Ladder.  Asset provides assessment which rewards learners for their achievements in one skill at a time.   There is a choice of methods to reward learners' progression available:

Teacher Assessment:

  • Assessed by the teacher and an informal way of assessing pupils.  
  • Teacher assessment - Teacher assessment provides a way of assessing student language ability using a pack of tasks supplied by OCR in a Teacher Assessment Pack.  
  • 4 skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing.  Teacher can choose to place more emphasis on progression in specific areas to progress up the 3 grades within each level (Breakthrough 1-3, Preliminary 4-6, Intermediate 7-9 etc)
  • Teacher assessment takes place in the classroom and can be given to individual learners in class time.
  • Teachers can adapt some of the tasks to fit in with their own programme of study
  • The student will get a certificate for each grade successfully completed in each skill area.
  • Teacher assessment can be used to find out whether learners are ready for external assessment.

* one teacher in a centre needs to complete the Accredited Teacher Training material which is supplied with each Teacher Assessment Pack. More information about teacher assessment can be found here

External assessment:   External assessment covers the whole of a stage (eg, whole of Breakthrough 1-3, Preliminary 4-6, Intermediate 7-9, Advanced 10-12) . At any point in the year, when the learner is ready, they can be entered for an Asset Languages qualification.   External assessment is offered for all four skills separately and each external skill test successfully completed is a nationally-recognised qualification in its own right - eg Breakthrough Mandarin Speaking.   There is therefore flexibility for the teacher/students to place more emphasis on certain skill areas.

External assessment in reading, writing and listening is work that is set and marked by OCR.

External assessment in speaking must be marked by the centre, and part of this assessment is set and moderated by OCR.

External assessment is carried out under controlled conditions but it is expected that most external assessment will take place within the normal classroom environment.

Candidates must be entered by centres for external assessment in advance, according to schedules provided by OCR; however, there are frequent testing opportunities throughout the year. These are:  November/March/May/June

A schedule for dates for 2011-2012 can be found HERE

All centres must register with Asset Languages to use external assessment

Can I use Asset Languages Chinese for Primary & Secondary?  Yes.  Asset Language is ideal for both Primary and Secondary students.  For more information please see:

Primary Schools information

Secondary Schools information

Where do I get the Mandarin content for each level?   Specifications:    To help teachers think about how Asset Languages would fit in with current classroom activity, Asset have produced a basic specification of the language purpose and functions that are covered in the teacher assessment and the external tests for each language and stage:

Specification 1 - Breakthrough

Specification 2 - Preliminary

Specification 3 - Intermediate

Specification 4 - Advanced

Teacher Assessment Packs (TAPs):  This is where you find what should be covered. Mandarin TAPs contain a series of quick and easy-to-adapt tasks in all four skills in and covering a specific stage (Breakthrough, Preliminary etc). A Breakthrough Stage TAP contains listening, speaking, reading and writing tasks at Grades 1, 2 and 3, a Preliminary TAP contains tasks at Grades 4, 5 and 6 etc.

Details of TAPs for Mandarin Chinese is as follows:

The ring bound TA pack includes: guidelines, assessment material, sample reporting forms, CD of listening material and teacher accreditation materials which include support for speaking and DVD Packs:

Breakthrough (Context-free) £116.77 PSCHB01

Preliminary (Context-free) £127.77 PSCHPS01

Accredited Teacher: Please only order if you require additional/replacement training materials as the materials are also included free of charge with Teacher Assessment Packs

Training Packs:

Breakthrough £10.93 ATCHB01

Preliminary* £10.93 ATCHP01

Teachers can order a TAP via the OCR Order Line: 0870 770 6622.

What resources can I use to teach Asset Languages Mandarin Chinese?  OCR Chinese Book 1 is designed with Asset Languages Breakthrough in mind.  The range contains textbook, workbook and answerbook.  Read The Chinese Staffroom’s review of OCR Chinese.

OCR Chinese is available from Dragons in Europe.  Book 2 is available shortly.



If you are using Asset Languages in your school and would like to share your experiences, please contact pete [at] bamboolearning [dot] co [dot] uk