Learning Chinese - Overview
Learning Chinese is like learning two languages: the written character form and the spoken form, nowadays written using the English alphabet (pinyin). Learning (and remembering) Chinese characters takes considerably longer than learning spoken Chinese and its notation. For this reason the following guide concentrates on spoken Chinese.
We have prepared a collection of the most frequently used daily expressions and sentences to help you. We hope you will be successful in and enjoy communicating with Chinese people you meet using some of these phrases. See our Chinese Lessons and Famous Chinese Sayings.
See Ten Essential Phrases for Tourists in China for basic communication in Chinese.
We have prepared a collection of the most frequently used daily expressions and sentences to help you, presented in video and tabular form. We hope you will be successful in and enjoy communicating with the Chinese people you meet using some of the Chinese you can learn here.
Learning Chinese from Video
- Learning Chinese 01: Address People
- Learning Chinese 02: Everyday Language
- Learning Chinese 03: Shopping
- Learning Chinese 04: Ask the Direction
- Learning Chinese 05: Ask the Direction Ⅱ
- Learning Chinese 06: Restaurant
- Learning Chinese 07: Numbers
- Learning Chinese 08: Numbers Ⅱ
- Learning Chinese 09: Chinese Currency
See our Chinese Lessons.
- Lesson 01: Greeting
- Lesson 02: Eating Out
- Lesson 03: Finding out about the weather
- Lesson 04: Expressing the Time
- Lesson 05: Seasons & Days of the Week
- Lesson 06: Numbers
- Lesson 07: Shopping
- Lesson 08: Hotel Accommodation
- Lesson 09: Direction
- Lesson 10: Getting Around
- Lesson 11: Country Names & Useful Expressions
- Lesson 12: Using the Correct Title
- Lesson 13: Hobbies & Activities
Pinyin is the notation used for writing Mandarin (standard Chinese) pronunciation. (Pronunciation is not evident from looking at Chinese characters.) It serves the same purpose as the international phonetic symbols used in dictionaries to show how English words are pronounced.
Pinyin is a very useful tool to learn for getting around China. Chinese people view their characters as the true Chinese written language, but pinyin can be seen on many maps, road signs, and other notices.
Pinyin is much easier to learn, use and remember than characters, particularly if tones are ignored. Pinyin can be thoroughly learnt in a few hours, but a working knowledge of Chinese characters takes months, if not years of hard study.
See Chinese hip words to know more interesting Chinese words!
Our Chinese Phrasebook gives some useful words and sentences that customers may use on their trips.
Listen to the Chinese Phrasebook in mp3 format
Download the Chinese Phrasebook
Chinese Calligraphy Experiences
- By joining our Beijing Tours, Xi'an Tours or Guilin Tours, visitors can add Chinese calligraphy classes to the itinerary at very favorable prices.
- Most comprehensive museums in China have calligraphy collections. See our Museums Tours.
- For travelers who are interested in the history, evolution and cultural relics of Chinese calligraphy, Museum of Chinese Characters in Anyang City, Henan Province is a good choice. The Stele Forest Museum in Xi'an City houses many works of noted ancient calligraphers as well as precious stone sculptures.
- Contact us for a tailor-made tour.
FAQs About Learning Chinese
- How many people use Chinese?
Chinese is used by approximately 1.3 billion people around the world, that is almost one sixth of the world’s population.
- Is it difficult to learn Chinese?
Learning Chinese, like learning any other foreign languages, always poses a challenge for non-native speakers. It is important to practice on a regular basis, ideally spend some time on it every day or every week.
- How many Chinese characters do I need to know?
Mastering 3000-4000 frequently used characters is enough to cover daily conversations and readings.