“A good opportunity is seldom presented, and is easily lost.” – Chinese Proverb
In recent years, the numbers of students choosing to study Chinese has greatly increased. In fact, last year was the first year that more students chose Mandarin A Level than German A Level. While Chinese is actually a range of languages and dialects, when we say “Chinese”, we’re referring to the largest and most common variant, Mandarin Chinese.
Since China has the world’s largest GDP and Mandarin Chinese is the most common language in the world, there are a lot of great reasons for learning Mandarin.
So where exactly can you learn Chinese in the UK?
Which are the best places to learn Mandarin?
In this article, we’ll show you what your options are and the benefits of each.
Why should you consider learning Chinese with a Chinese cultural group?
There are a number of great reasons to learn Mandarin with a Chinese group or association:
Language and culture go hand-in-hand; you can’t learn one without learning about the other. (Source: ulleo)
Generally, groups offer a good mix of learning Mandarin and:
As you may have guessed, there are far more options in London and larger cities than there are in the country. Here are a few groups, resources, and places that you can learn Chinese that you should consider paying a visit:
There are a number of reasons against making this decision:
Invest in a good dictionary. You’ll need it! (Source: stevepb)
However, having studied at a private language school will look good on your CV. It’s also a great way to learn Mandarin quickly from experienced and qualified Chinese teachers.
In the UK, there are 141,000 native Chinese speakers.
Would your child like to be able to speak to them?
The fact that Chinese is the world’s second language and has nearly a billion speakers is a pretty good argument for learning it for both personal and professional reasons.
Children can have a lot of fun learning Chinese. (Source: StartupStockPhotos)
When it comes to language learning, it’s better to start young. A beginner will learn some common phrases, essential Chinese vocabulary, Chinese grammar, pronunciation, tones, and how to write these famous Chinese characters.
There are very few schools in the UK offering Chinese lessons. Schools tend to include Chinese culture in their lessons since culture and language are inextricably linked, as well as phonetics and calligraphy. Children really enjoy learning the Chinese alphabet!
Children can start learning Chinese at any age.
Generally speaking, most Chinese classes will cover aspects such as:
Not only can children learn Chinese at GCSE and A Level, but it’s also recommended that they do! If they want to learn even more about Mandarin Chinese, consider looking for private Chinese tutors to help them.
Key Stage 3 is when a child is in year 7, 8, and 9, or aged between 11 and 14. This tends to be the age where students will learn basic concepts of Mandarin Chinese. Don’t expect them to be conversing in Chinese just yet as learning Mandarin is one of the most difficult things for an English native speaker to do.
Key Stage 4 includes the two years where children study their GCSEs. At this level, schools will have less freedom in what they teach students as they’ll have to ensure they’re all learning everything they need to know for their exams.
Studying Chinese at A Level is a great idea for students who’ve already passed their GCSE or those who are interested in learning Chinese at university either on a language course or international business course.
Since Chinese isn’t the most common subject at A Level, it mightn’t be offered at your school’s sixth form and you may have to attend a college instead. Depending on your circumstances and your other A Level choices, you’ll have to decide in some cases whether or not it’s worthwhile attending a sixth form or college that’s worse than your first choice just because it offers Chinese at A Level.
There are a number of universities around the country offering both undergraduate degrees and postgraduate degrees in Mandarin.
Undergraduate courses are either modern language courses with Chinese, Chinese degrees, or Chinese Studies degrees. There are also a lot of business and international business degrees that offer Chinese as an option, too.
Most postgraduate courses are in translation and interpreting, but there are also courses in Chinese cultural studies.
Universities offering Chinese undergraduate and postgraduate degrees include:
While a lot of Chinese learning takes place in schools, there’s nothing stopping you from learning a language outside of compulsory education or a university. In fact, you can learn Chinese online thanks to great resources like YouTube channels, blogs, and websites.
If those options aren’t for you, you can also enlist the help of a private Chinese tutor to help you. They can help you learn to speak, read, write, and understand Chinese while focusing on exactly what you want to learn. After all, there isn’t a syllabus for you to follow!
Whether you want to study in China, live in China, or just learn to speak Chinese, there’s nothing better than private Chinese tutorials for learning how to speak the language. You’ll be able to focus on learning new vocabulary, reading and writing Chinese, and developing an understanding of the local culture.
It’s much easier to learn Chinese in China than the UK. However, don’t let that stop you! (Source: StopDeforestation)
While Chinese might seem easy for native speakers, you’ll need to spend at least 300 hours studying the language before you’ll be anywhere near ready heading off to China!
There are tonnes of advantages of private Chinese tutorials:
This begs the question of exactly how you can find the perfect Chinese tutor for you. Firstly, you need to focus on your needs (preparing for an exam, absolute beginner, applying to university, etc.) to find the ideal tutor for you.
Once you’ve worked this out, you can start looking for your perfect private tutor in a number of different places:
Finally, keep in mind that the cost of private tutorials can vary greatly depending on where you live, how long the courses are, the tutor’s experience and qualifications, and the type of lessons you’re getting. For example, the average cost of a Chinese tutorial in London.
So are you ready to start learning Chinese?
If so, consider the different options available to you, why you want to learn Chinese, your budget, and your timetable, and then decide exactly how you can learn this wonderful language.