“To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.” - Confucius
Chinese isn't one language but rather a spectrum of languages, dialects, and varieties. There are 1.2 billion people who speak a variety of Chinese and the largest member of the group, Mandarin Chinese, is spoken by 960 million people.
With 960 million speakers, it's hardly surprising to find out that there are plenty of different local varieties, dialects, and accents. In fact, some differ so much that a speaker of one may not understand a speaker of another. When this happens, languages are said to not be mutually intelligible.
Nevertheless, there is a standardised form of Mandarin based on the Beijing dialect of the language. This is known as Modern Standard Mandarin and is the version of the language you will probably learn if you study Chinese.
Of course, if you travel to certain places, such as Hong Kong or Shanghai, you may need to know a different Chinese language, such as Cantonese in Hong Kong and Canton or Shanghainese, also known as the Shanghai dialect, Hu dialect, or Hu language, which is actually a version of Wu Chinese, a language spoken by around 80 million people in the Zheijang and Jiangsu provinces and Shanghai. Of course, in these places, they also understand Mandarin and almost everyone in China is taught it to some degree.
China has the world's second-largest economy and is classified as an emerging and developing economy. Given the sheer number of speakers and the fact that these speakers belong to a growing economy, learning Mandarin could be great for your career.
Additionally, China is a country with a rich and diverse history and culture. Since culture and language are two sides of the same coin, by learning Chinese (and Mandarin, in particular), you can gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history as well as enjoy Chinese literature, film, and music in their mother tongue.
The Chinese language is one of the most difficult and complicated to learn and you’ll quickly see this if you take a beginners’ Chinese lesson. Whether you’re learning about the Chinese phonetics, civilisation, Chinese pronunciation, how its spoken, tones, vocabulary, or translating Chinese, it’s always a good idea for any learner to study a variety of different Chinese Mandarin topics to learn effectively.
The best places to do this are at one of the members of the Confucius Institute. There are a number of them in the United Kingdom and their goal is to promote Chinese culture. While the institute is headquartered in Beijing, there are several institutes around the world.
In addition to the Confucius Institute, where else can you learn Chinese in the UK?
In this article, we’ve got some answers for you.
Why Learn Mandarin Chinese with a Tutor?
Interested in learning about the Chinese New Year?
How to do Chinese calligraphy?
Struggling with common Chinese greetings?
Or just interested in learning a new language?
You’ll be able to learn all about this in a variety of different places.
Because they focus on more than just theoretical learning and a few common phrases. They also focus on conversational Mandarin Chinese and the surrounding culture.
Learning languages with cultural associations are usually less academical and more accessible. Thus, in addition to basic Chinese, you’ll also cover:
- An introduction to Chinese characters and language
- Chinese writing
- Traditional Chinese painting
- Different Chinese regional languages like Cantonese and Wan as well as Pinyin.
You can also enjoy free Chinese lessons in associations to find out whether they’re for you or not.
There are plenty of options for learning more about the Mandarin language in the UK including:
- The Open University
- SOAS University of London
- Practical Mandarin
You could also take Mandarin courses London with a Superprof tutor!
As you may have guessed, most language schools are found in London. However, there are also places in Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Belfast. Chinese associations are also good for preparing for a trip to China or a language stay with a Chinese host family. Before choosing an association to learn Chinese with, you need to consider your wants and needs. You can then search for local Chinese associations.
Find out more about learning Chinese with the help of a private tutor.
While language schools are almost perfect for children interested in learning foreign languages, some children might find the teaching there a little dry and boring, especially after weeks of Chinese grammar rules and Chinese writing. This is where certain groups and associations really shine as they offer activities as well as language learning.
There might be a Chinese writing workshop, for example, where they can become experts in Chinese calligraphy. They might even learn how to cook Chinese food, which would be perfect for immersion.
There are tonnes of groups and associations in the UK where Children can learn more about Chinese culture and Mandarin. For example:
- Little Mandarin Classes
- Bubbly Chinese
- Link Chinese Academy
- Chinese Learning Centre
Attending these places could be great for children needing to learn a new, and not necessarily easy, foreign language. Thanks to a good variety of activities, they’ll develop language skills without even noticing.
By attending Chinese groups, your kids will gain valuable skills for the future.
Getting Started with Mandarin Chinese with Student Groups
Generally, student groups are great for learning Mandarin Chinese because they balance two main things:
- Private Chinese tutorials for quickly learning to read and write in Chinese.
- Practical Chinese speaking and listening workshops to help you gain fluency.
These groups are great for helping students to learn plenty of different languages, not just Mandarin Chinese. They’re also good for learning more about Chinese culture, especially for those planning on studying abroad or doing a language exchange in China.
A lot of universities have Chinese societies and links with other teaching establishments. It’s worthwhile seeking these societies out if you’re interested in learning to speak Chinese or going to China. Universities also offer lessons to those wanting to learn how to speak Mandarin Chinese. Joining a society is a great way to learn more about the language and culture as well as meet new people!
Learning Professional Chinese in a Language School
If you want to learn from native Chinese tutors and teachers or learn Chinese online, you’ll want to look at groups and organisations dedicated to professionals. These groups usually focus on gaining the HSK Certificate or Chinese for professionals.
Why should you get professional training for Chinese in the workplace?
Because you’ll learn to converse in Chinese in a very short period of time.
Better than just regular training, the options tend to be flexible, especially for those wanting to learn Chinese outside of work.
- EdX Mandarin for Business
- Business Chinese with a Member of the Confucius Insititute
In order to achieve your Chinese goals of going from a beginner to an expert as quickly as possible, professional groups are the way to go. Many of them can even help with trips to China.
The private tutors on Superprof can help you with the same kind of tutoring offered by these groups and associations.
Find out more about learning Chinese in a language school.
What’s the Difference between an Association and a Private Language School
Generally, you’ll need to pay an annual membership fee to an association in order to participate in the events they offer. Private language schools charge signup fees for courses and their rates tend to depend on what your level is. Associations tend to be more flexible than private language schools.
How Much do Chinese Classes Cost in an Association?
The price can vary wildly depending on a number of factors:
- Where the lessons take place
- The type of class (group class, exam prep classes, private tutorials, etc.)
- The length of the class (usually between an hour and two hours)
- How long you sign up for (6 months, a year, etc.)
Generally, language lessons are available for less than you’d find them at private language schools. Of course, you need to take your membership fee into account, too. Generally, classes can be up to double the price in London. This means you could be spending anywhere between around £100 and several hundred pounds for around 6 months of learning Chinese.
While speaking Chinese isn't necessarily easy, it's a very rewarding endeavour. Once you're able to have a simple conversation with Chinese speakers or write Chinese messages, you'll realise just how essential your Chinese teacher or Chinese language courses were.
So are you ready to go?