SOAS University of London

China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Lao She, a Language Master

Dr Cui Yan beside Lao She's plaque
Dr Cui Yan was present at unveiling of Lao She's Blue plaque ceremony.

Ninety years ago, a Chinese young man from Beijing came to SOAS, then called SOS (School of Oriental Studies), to teach Mandarin. He was one of the first generation of Chinese language teachers who taught Chinese outside China. His name was Lao She.  

Living and working in the western environment, Lao She had opportunities to learn, to discover and to observe new languages and new cultures which were reflected in his later life. In order to teach Chinese more effectively, he and his colleagues made Chinese teaching materials including audio. It was then, while he was teaching, he started his writings.

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Lao She - A Language Master


Lao She’s first three novels were written while he was teaching Mandarin at SOS (SOAS). Since then Lao She continuously produced more and more varied writings until the 1960's. His novels such as Luotuo Xiangzi (Rickshaw Man), Sishi Tongtang (Four Generations under One Roof) and his plays such as Longxu Gou (Dragon Beard Ditch) and Cha Guar (Tea House) have earned him great reputations as a language master and literary writer world-wide.

Lao She was the only Chinese who received a commemorative blue plaque in the UK for his great work of teaching, writing and translating in London. Although he died in 1966 during the cultural revolutionary movement, his works has inspired many generations.

2016 will be the SOAS centenary and as a part of celebrating SOAS Centenary program, as well as the 90th anniversary of Lao She’s coming to SOS (SOAS) to teach mandarin, Dr. Cui Yan’s monologue entitled Style and Development of Lao She’s Literary Language (《老舍的文学语言风格与发展》) has been published recently by Fudan University Press in Shanghai China.

 In 2016 more workshops and different activities centering on Lao She will be organized. You are welcome to join us and your contributions world be appreciated.

If you are interested, please contact Dr Cui Yan: