Chinese Language Courses

By Jessica Hetley - Last update

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Learn Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world. It has just shy of one billion (yes, one billion) speakers and is spoken by 70% of people living in China. There are obvious advantages to speaking the world’s largest language. For one, it will allow you to speak to more people than any other language (obviously).

While the difficulty of learning written Chinese language can put many potential students off studying it for the first time, with expert tutors, you will soon find that it is not as difficult as you thought (and that learning to speak it is even easier).

I thought there was more than one language in China?

That is true. Mandarin, while by far the most widely spoken of all the Chinese languages, is not the only one. It is joined by Jin, Wu, Gan, Xiang, Min, Hakka, Yue (which includes Cantonese, the second most spoken Chinese dialect), Ping and Huizhou. With the exception of Yue, most of the other Chinese dialects are only spoken in local regions. It is for this reason that Mandarin has become so dominant (as it was the language of Beijing, the capital city).

How can I learn to speak Chinese if I haven’t studied it before?

While Chinese language seems very daunting (did you know, there are over 180 different characters?), it is actually much easier to learn than many other world languages. Although there are aspects that are difficult to master, and like every language, you must keep practicing and using the language to maintain a solid knowledge, you should not be put off by the fact that it is very different to English.

The European Language Framework

To understand what level of Chinese language course is right for you, it is important to understand the European Language Framework, and how they assess the difficulty of a language to learn for the first time.

If you have never spoken or learned Chinese before, then you will need to work towards level A1. This is the first step on your journey to speaking Chinese. It takes about 120 hours to master Chinese to an A1. While this may seem daunting, this is equal to only 4 months of 1-hour study per day. If you were to study for 2 hours a day, it would only take around 6 weeks to achieve this level of fluency.

Once you have mastered A1, you can move on to A2, which will allow you to hold a basic conversation in Chinese. If you are taking a holiday to China, this is a great level to learn to, as it will allow you to deal with everyday encounters without too much trouble. This is a further 120 hours of study on top of A1 (so 240 in total) and will represent the first real progress you make on the road to becoming a Chinese speaker.

B1 is where the conversation really begins. If you are going to spending a prolonged period of time abroad in China, or work closely with Chinese people, then aiming to master B1 should be your goal. This is a step up from A2 again, but a much bigger one than A1 to A2 was. This should be about 160 additional hours of study (so 400 in total). This still works out to less than 2 hours a day of easy practice to gain within a year.

Whatever your reason is for learning Chinese, it is sure to be fun and rewarding. Choose from a great selection of courses to find the one that is right for you, today.

Jessica Hetley

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