Lumen’s Leo wins top prize in Mandarin competition

A Lumen Christi College student has come out top in a UK-wide Mandarin speaking competition.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 4:35 pm
Leo Doherty, a student at Lumen Christi College, who won the intermediate category in the British Council’s UK-wide Mandarin speaking competition.

Leo Doherty, an Upper Sixth pupil, won first prize in the intermediate category of the British Council’s Mandarin Speaking Competition which took place in London.

Leo was joined at the event by fellow Lumen pupils Anitta Sibin, who competed in the beginners’ category, and Matthew Rodgers, Niamh Fleming, Grace Martin, Vibhav Nthanankalva and Owen McFadden, who performed in the group category.

Leo, who has only been learning Mandarin for two years, feels it’s surreal to have won.

Leo Doherty with, from left, Dr Marie Ferris, Vice Principal, Lumen Christi College, Guan Changqing and XU Hongem, Mandarin teachers, and Naomi McAteer, British Council Northern Ireland.

He said: “I’ve always loved linguistics and, with Mandarin, it changes the way you think about languages - it’s almost like a problem to be solved. I also like that you can watch different TV, listen to Chinese music and communicate with people across the world.

“I was shocked when I won. There were so many good competitors and I didn’t expect to come away with anything. I was just there for the experience and it wasn’t really about the winning, so to speak – it still feels very surreal.

“My teacher, XU Honge, helped me prepare - giving me lots of tips and tricks ahead of the competition as well as showing me how to manipulate the language. It was definitely a lot more work than I originally thought, but well worth it!”

Leo, who is in his final year at Lumen Christi, plans to study maths at either Cambridge University or St Andrew’s.

He said: “Maths is just something I enjoy and, hopefully, it will take me into some job I like. I aim to keep learning Mandarin as I think it will be useful – you see jobs in London, Dublin and, even, Derry where they need people that can speak Mandarin and communicate with people in China.”

Dr Marie Ferris, Vice Principal at Lumen Christi College, said: “We’re just so tremendously proud of Leo, as well as the rest of our finalists. It’s a great achievement for all of them – they were very professional and performed at such a high level, especially considering the competition they had to face.

“I must pay tribute to their Mandarin teachers from the Confucius Institute who have worked so hard with them. As a school, we have been part of the Confucius project since 2014 and it’s created so many opportunities for our pupils, helping them learn more about Chinese language and culture.”