Cambridge IGCSE Chinese as a Second Language is designed for learners who already have a working knowledge of the language and who want to consolidate their understanding to progress their education or career. Through their studies, learners achieve a thorough understanding of a wide range of registers and styles and learn to communicate appropriately in different situations. 

The syllabus focuses on the linked language skills of reading, writing, listening and oral communication. Through their study of Cambridge IGCSE Chinese as a Second Language, learners can achieve a level of practical communication ideal for everyday use, which can also form the basis for further, more in-depth language study.

Student experience


What do you enjoy about the subject?

Ying Jie: There is a lot of group work and group discussion. So instead of listening to the teacher talk, you get to talk to your teammates and I like that a lot.

Tong Ern: I like that in classes we get to communicate with friends and teachers in Chinese and I just like language a lot.


What is the most challenging thing about your subject?

Ying Jie: To me the most challenging part is speaking. During your IGCSE [exam] your examiner will tell you what’s happening around the world. They will ask you what you think about it and you have to respond instantly.

Tong Ern: I also think that the speaking is the most challenging [thing] because there’s a wide range of topics in the syllabus and you don’t know what topic will be coming out so the examiner can ask you any question and you have to respond accordingly.


Why did you choose this subject?

Ying Jie: For me I find Chinese interesting. And learning a new language- it’s very beneficial for your future career.

Tong Ern: I took this language because I wanted to further improve my Chinese speaking skills, and also [my skills] in reading and writing.


Was there anything in the subject that was different from your initial expectations? What were the changes from year 9?

Ying Jie: There’s a lot of homework, group work and a lot of participation and also, there are alot of assessments compared to year 9. The grading system is also different.

Tong Ern: I think in year 9 you focus more on learning vocabulary and idioms and stuff like that. Starting from year 10, IGCSE, we started practicing reading passages and how to answer the questions and also writing essays.


How are the lessons like?

Ying Jie: For assessment you have to write two essays which is quite time consuming; that is quite tiring for me.

Tong Ern: In lessons we usually write essays or practice past-year papers and in terms of assessment, there are about one to two assessments per term. I also think that it’s more difficult in terms on time management because there are two essays back-to-back and it’s combined reading and writing in the same paper.


Roughly how much homework is there a week?

Ying Jie: It depends. If it’s an essay it takes a longer time.

Tong Ern: For my class we usually do the work in class so there’s not really a lot of homework unless you can’t finish it in class because the teacher gives you time [to finish it].


What are the skills or knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?

Tong Ern: There are many skills that you can learn from the subject such as writing, reading, speaking and listening. I think these will be very useful in my future I want to meet more people and learning a second a second language gives you more opportunities to meet new people. Even career wise, most businesses will think you are a better choice if you have a learned a second language.


Any tips for the new 2nd Lang Chinese students?

Ying Jie: I think that Chinese is not as hard as you think. It is quite interesting and fun but if you face any difficulties in Chinese your teacher will always like to help you.

Tong Ern: I think that as long as you enjoy the language and you find it interesting, you should definitely take the subject.


How do you study for the subject?

Ying Jie: I barely study for Chinese but everyday I’ll read some chinese news and sometimes I will watch Chinese dramas. I only study when there’s an assessment coming up.

Tong Ern: I too don’t really study for this subject but it will help if you read chinese novels and songs- anything relates to that- or even communicate in chinese with your family sometimes.


Will taking any other subject help me to be successful in this one?

Ying Jie: I personally think no.

Tong Ern: I think that maybe the Malay language overlaps a little in terms of the speaking test because it also helps you prepare for answering questions and such.

Overview by Ms Ong

Describe your subject in 3 words
Challenging yet Fun

What are the top 3 skills needed to be successful in your subject?
Reading, Writing and Speaking

How does your subject promote personal development?
Analytical skill, Communication skill

How does your subject promote professional development? (ie. What career pathways are available?)
Chinese is a bridge to the world. It is a bonus to every career pathways especially when you want to explore China market.

What’s the best thing about your subject?
It is one of the most popular and important language of the world.

Papers in IGCSE Second Language Chinese

Papers in IGCSE Chinese - Second Language


Paper 1: Reading and Writing

2 hours

70% of total mark

70 marks

Required to complete three reading exercises testing comprehension and information transfer and two writing exercises.


Paper 2: Speaking Test
10-12 minutes

30% of total mark

60 marks

Consists of a presentation, a topic conversation and a general conversation.


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