Mandarin Chinese

chinese_circled_flagNǐ hǎo! 你好!

China will play a major role in world affairs in the future. Chinese is the most spoken language in the world! One out of five people is Chinese. If you can speak Chinese, you can communicate with more people different from yourself, and learn things not only about one of history's most enduring civilizations, but of a diverse and rapidly more important country.

Mandarin is a group of related languages used across the north and southwest of China; the common version known as 'standard Chinese' is based on the Beijing dialect. With around a billion speakers across the globe, Mandarin is spoken by more people than any other language (including English) making it a hugely valuable tool for conducting business. It is also a terrific challenge because of the complexity of both spoken and written forms.

As well as China itself, Mandarin is an official language in Taiwan and Singapore and is commonly used in ex-patriot Chinese communities around the world. However, please note that while Mandarin and Cantonese have the same writing system, the pronunciation is different. Cantonese is used primarily in Hong Kong, Macau and southern China.

Levels offered: Mandarin Chinese


Beginners (level 1)

You have little or no prior knowledge of Mandarin.

FAST TRACK Beginners (level 1)

You have little or no prior knowledge of Mandarin Chinese and you would like to make quick progress.

Post-beginners (level 2)

You can manage Mandarin in basic situations using the present tense.

Intermediate (level 3)

You can manage Mandarin in basic everyday situations using past, present and future tenses.

Upper-intermediate (level 4)

Mandarin Chinese Language, Culture awareness and Social etiquette for UoL Staff at Beginners (level 1)

You have little or no prior knowledge of Mandarin language and Chinese culture.

Not sure which level you want? Use the ELP self-assessment grid to identify your level of competence.

Start learning right now...

Greeting: "Zǎo shàng hǎo" (good morning)

Counting: yī, èr, sān, sì, wǔ...

Useful phrase: "我喜欢中国菜,因为它很好吃!"  Wǒ xǐhuān zhōngguó cài, yīnwèi tā hěn hào chī! (“I like Chinese food, because it is delicious!”)

foodInteresting points: In contrast to what many people may think, Mandarin is actually simpler to learn. Compared to English or French grammar, Chinese is markedly simple because you don't need to conjugate verbs, master different verb tenses or distinguish between singular and plural nouns. The challenge is rather learning how to read and write Chinese characters and mastering Mandarin tones (such as the word "" which, depending on the context can mean horse, mother, hemp, or to scold).

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NEW Courses 2019/20




2019-2020 Term Dates

Classes run during the University terms and take place during evenings, afternoons and Saturdays:

Term 1: Autumn term (10 weeks)

Monday 7 October – Saturday 14 December 2019

Term 2: Spring term (10 weeks)

Monday 20 January – Saturday 28 March 2020

Term 3: Summer term (10 weeks)

Monday 27 April – Saturday 4 July 2020

Summer School (2 intensive weeks)

Monday 15 – Friday 26 June 2020