James Trapp


James Trapp is currently the Primary Network Coordinator at the UCL Institute of Education Confucius Institute for schools, and a free-lance translator and Chinese education consultant.

At the IOE CI he is running a 5-year project sponsored by HSBC to develop and support Mandarin Chinese as an MFL in English primary schools.

James first became interested in China through an exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1974, and went on to take his degree in Chinese at SOAS, University of London, with special papers in pre-Han archaeology and early Buddhist art. Having graduated at a time when only oddballs studied Chinese, he has been waiting several decades for the subject to come to its proper place. He has retained a passion for Chinese art and history, and much of his work revolves around integrating the study of Chinese language and culture and breaking down the barriers of inter-cultural misunderstanding that still persist.

He has published new translations of Sunzi “Art of War” and Laozi “Dao De Jing”, is a qualified operating theater nurse, a keen, but aging motorcyclist, and a competent provider of Sichuan cuisine.


UCL Institute of Education Confucius Institute

James Trapp's Chineasy Story

About 30 years after I first started my relationship with Chinese characters (and it really does become a relationship with all the ups and downs of love and hate) I was standing on a street in Beijing looking at the large characters down the side of a huge apartment block. I suddenly realized that I was seeing them in a different way; instead of dissecting them and then hunting through the virtual dictionary in my brain, an immediate image of their meaning formed in my head. The characters were speaking to me directly, and it was a revelatory moment. One of my first reactions to Chineasy when I saw it, was: here is a tool that will help people establish that kind of relationship with characters far sooner than it took me, and what a great thing that was.