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Teach Mandarin with Rap | Teachers' Corner | The Learning Adventure

Teach Mandarin with Rap | Teachers’ Corner

Guest blog by Adam Moorman

Adam Moorman, a Chinese language teacher, rapper and contributor to the Guardian Weekly, launched The Mandarin Rap Podcast to help students learn Chinese with rap. The new teaching & learning tool places a stronger emphasis on speaking and listening: developed in light of recent changes to the Mandarin Chinese GCSE.

The Mandarin Rap Podcast grew out of a project we ran in Fortismere School last year, which won funding from the SHINE London Teachers’ Innovation Fund. That project focused on using rap as a means to improve sixth form students’ Mandarin speaking. The rationale was that rapping helps students get the all-important repetition needed to improve speaking, but in a way that is fun and memorable. Learners need to be creative and independent in their research and use of the language, all of which are key skills on the way to fluency.


Rapping in Mandarin is actually not as hard as it sounds, as Mandarin is monosyllabic and has a very limited range of sounds, meaning it is much easier to find rhymes than in English. We found that the rap approach was very accessible to learners, and we spent the last year recording raps from both students and teachers, all supported by original hip-hop beats created by our music department.

We have now been able to compile an album of twelve original tracks, all featuring raps on varied topics such as healthy lifestyle, social media and the environment. These are accompanied by a teaching resource we made to allow teachers to exploit the album in class and hopefully encourage their students to rap too, using the instrumental music we made. The resource offers listening, translation and speaking activities, and the raps themselves are a great source of both vocabulary and inspiration for learners.

The monthly podcast will feature one of these raps each time, along with quite advanced topic-related conversation in Chinese and analysis of the rap lyrics. In this way, we hope to give both teachers and learners plenty of material to exploit. For example, the topic conversations can easily act as listening exercises, and the transcripts we provide can be used to aid listening, reading, translation and speaking.

It is important to note that as the project was financed through a charitable grant, we make all of the resources we produce freely available to anyone who is interested. As we all know, UK state schools are facing a funding crisis and we hope to help provide them with some quality resources they can enjoy for free. All we ask is that people spread the word about the podcast, share ideas, and make some great raps for us all to enjoy!

Listen to the first episode of the Mandarin Rap Podcast
#1 平衡生活 A Balanced Life
Learn how to talk about all those healthy things you should be doing

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