Frequently Asked Questions

What is Mandarin?2014-08-19T16:10:10+00:00

The term Mandarin actually refers to one of the major seven Chinese dialect groups- Mandarin being the largest of those groups. Literally, it means’ the common dialect’. It is based on the Beijing dialect. The government intends all Chinese people to use it as a common language.

What is Pinyin?2014-08-19T16:10:01+00:00

The Chinese had no uniform phonetic transcription system until the mid-20th century. Pinyin is the most commonly used Romanization system for Standard Mandarin. It was initially approved by the Chinese government in 1958. Since then it has been adopted by many organizations worldwide.

Pinyin uses the Latin alphabet, along with a few tone marks, to represent the sounds of Mandarin in standard pronunciation. For the most part, pinyin uses vowel and consonant letters as they are used in Romance languages. It is used to teach Chinese schoolchildren and foreign learners the standard pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese, to spell Chinese names in foreign publications and to enter Chinese characters on computers, etc.

Can I learn Mandarin Chinese with Pinyin only?2014-08-19T16:09:54+00:00

Of course you can, but you will never be able to read newspaper articles or books on paper. Once you start a higher level of study, you will find that learning Chinese Characters actually helps you memorize vocabulary faster. That’s because there is a large number of homophones (sound alike) words in Chinese, which are also represented by the same Pinyin, but the according Chinese Characters actually comprise each word’s meaning, thus helping your memory make out the differences more easily. Also, with our teaching approach, learning to recognize Chinese Characters is much easier than you would think.

Can I learn to speak Mandarin Chinese without reading it?2014-08-19T16:09:46+00:00

Yes, you can, if your goal is to learn basic conversation only. However, if you intend to acquire higher level Mandarin communication skills, learning the language as a whole – including Characters – is much more beneficial. Learning Chinese Characters helps you master spoken Mandarin in the long term and increases your power of retention.

How many tones are there in Mandarin Chinese?2014-08-19T16:09:37+00:00

Mandarin is commonly described as having four tones, but it’s more accurate to think of it as having five tones, including one ‘light’ or ‘neutral’ tone. Also, under certain circumstances, Characters’ original tones may have to change.

Are tones very important? Would Chinese understand if I say it wrong?2014-08-19T16:09:29+00:00

Absolutely, tones are important. Many words in Mandarin have the same basic pronunciation. The thing that distinguishes them is the tone. Still, you don’t need to worry too much about the tones: Even if your tones are slightly off, the meaning you want to convey will often be clear from the context.

Bear in mind: constant and patient repetition is all it takes to learn!

How do I use a Chinese dictionary?2014-08-19T16:09:24+00:00

There are usually two ways to look up a character.

  1. For a character you know the pronunciation but not its character and meaning, you simply look for it by its sound.
  2. For a character you cannot recognize in text, you need to go get the dictionary definition by its radical.

Nowadays it is highly recommended to use modern and very helpful dictionary Apps on your smartphone, which can make your life as a Mandarin Chinese Student much, much easier.

Does stroke order matter?2014-08-19T16:09:18+00:00

Yes! Because writing characters in the standardized stroke order can greatly facilitate learning and memorization. Your Character will also simply look better if you write them the right way.

Can Pinyin replace Chinese characters?2014-08-19T16:16:30+00:00

Unfortunately No! Spoken Chinese comprises many regional varieties. There are between 7 to 13 main regional groups of Chinese, of which the most spoken, by far, is Mandarin. Most of these groups are not mutually intelligible. However written Chinese is considered to be one of the world’s oldest active, continuously used writing systems. Despite historical changes in pronunciation, Chinese speakers in disparate dialect groups can all communicate in writing.

Education Travel Study Tours Beijing
Mandarin Beijing Program
Culture Homestay Program
Teach in China Program
Teach & Study Program
Teach in China Program