Brain Sciences


UCL Brain Sciences graduate uses psychoanalysis to transform language learning

Thanks to her postgraduate course, Sisi Lin devised an innovative way of teaching a second language. Her students achieve top results, and she has launched a unique business.

Sishu Founder

7 January 2021

Sisi studied her Master's in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology in UCL’s Faculty of Brain Sciences, a course that combines psychoanalytic theories of development and inter-family relationships. At the same time, she took a part-time job as a Mandarin teacher. This job, her study and support from UCL set her on an entrepreneurial path.

Sisi noticed that traditional methodologies of using textbooks and flashcards were not engaging the children. She decided to use psychoanalytic concepts from her Master's degree in her teaching, using real experiences that resonated with her pupils. These techniques made her the most popular teacher in the Chinese school.

UCL Innovation & Enterprise enabled Sisi to turn her language learning methodology into a business. The team helped to extend her stay in the UK via a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa and provided mentoring, workshops and advice. Sisi joined the Hatchery, UCL's startup incubator, and established the SiShu school.

Teachers at SiShu build strong relationships with students and their families while immersing the children in Chinese cultural activities. This approach pays off. Pupils of SiShu consistently score in the top percentile of students passing the Youth Chinese Test (YCT) – the international standardised Chinese test for language proficiency. SiShu also has the youngest students in the UK passing the test with top marks. Sisi's commitment to furthering Chinese culture in the UK won her a Big Ben Award, celebrating contributions to China’s overseas relations, in 2017.

Visit the SiShu website