M A N D A R I N   S U P E R S T A R

Lucy & Sam Mills

Primary School Teacher & Lawyer

Age: Both 31

Based: Auckland

Proficiency: Intermediate (Lucy) and Upper Intermediate (Sam)

High school sweethearts Lucy and Sam Mills arrived in China in 2009 with the intention of staying for a year. Loving it so much, they ended up staying for many years!


While Sam studied Chinese Mandarin at Yunnan Da Xu, Lucy travelled around the country teaching English.


The two made many friends and travelled extensively, including to Suzhou, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Taizhou, Kunming, Lijiang, Xi An, Dali and Anhui.


Today, Lucy teaches at a local primary school in Silverdale (where she tries to teach her students a bit of Mandarin) and is filming a TV show to help kids learn Chinese Mandarin.


Sam is a lawyer and is currently running for the local council.


When did you start learning Chinese? What inspired you to take up the language? 

When we moved to China and the only way to get around was to learn to speak it - a real sink or swim situation! 


Tell us about your Chinese language learning journey? What has been the most unexpected or rewarding part of the experience? 

Getting invited to dine in a castle in China. 

What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your Chinese speaking ability? 

I got invited to film a TV show that teaches kids how to speak Mandarin. Speaking Chinese opens up many opportunities.  


What do you like most about Chinese culture? What are the most striking differences between Chinese and Kiwi culture? 

When I lived in China I got invited to so many dinners and fun KTV experiences! Everybody is so welcoming and generous. I couldn’t walk down the street in NZ and have the same thing happen. 


Why do you think other New Zealanders should learn Chinese? Do you have any tips for those thinking of taking up the language? 

 It is so much fun! I like learning Chinese through songs, TV shows and online classes. I also practise with the kids at school.