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Chinese Mandarin Beginners (Year 1) Short Course

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Covid-19 update: The learning doesn't have to stop, join our online community. We will be delivering courses remotely until further notice. Live tutor support and virtual lessons will take place during advertised teaching hours. The classes are taught in small groups, so you'll get lots of support from your tutor. Book now.

Start learning Chinese Mandarin with our Chinese Mandarin Beginners short course. The course is made up of three parts (parts 1-3), taught at progressive levels. Take one part or enrol on all three to complete the full beginners syllabus.

Why choose this course?

Have you heard Chinese expressions Xièxie and Ní hǎo from those Kung Fu films and wondered what they mean? Do you want to be able to introduce yourself in Mandarin on Skype to your colleagues in Shanghai?

This Beginners Chinese Mandarin short course is an introduction to the Mandarin Chinese language and way of life in China. Challenging but rewarding, the Chinese Mandarin Beginners course is perfectly suited to those working full time or anyone looking to improve their skills and knowledge.

The full beginners course is made up of three 10-week beginners’ modules – part 1, part 2 and part 3. Enrol on the full syllabus (parts 1-3) to gain a complete knowledge of Chinese Mandarin for beginners at the best price. Our teaching takes place one evening a week,  ideal for those with various commitments or working full-time.

Our language short courses are taught by qualified native speakers and delivered at City, University of London’s main campus, in the heart of the capital.

Course overview

The course offers a systematic learning style for beginners who want to lay a solid foundation in Chinese grammar and sentence structures. It focuses on daily communication and uses the phonetic system, Pinyin, to develop speaking and listening skills. Hands-on tasks and role play exercises are used to create realistic situations in which the use of language and culture is explored.

Is it the right level for me?

If you have no prior knowledge of Chinese Mandarin you must start with part 1, or the full syllabus (parts 1-3).

If you have some basic knowledge of Mandarin and you are already familiar with the content in part 1 you may choose to enrol on part 2 or part 3. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Please make sure you have the correct level by using our online guidelines.

What will I learn?

What will I learn?

Part 1

Topics covered

  • Numerals;
  • Formal and informal greetings;
  • Introductions;
  • Surname and full name;
  • Nationality and birth place;
  • Country and language;
  • Age and birthday;
  • Relationship and marital status.

Grammatical structures

  • Pinyin pronunciation;
  • Basic sentence structures and word orders;
  • Particles: ‘ma’,’ne’;
  • Other question words "nǎli" and "shéi";
  • Use past tense particle "le";
  • Common measure words;
  • Negate verbs with "méiyǒu/ méi";
  • Basis speech pattern: dàn shì.

Learning objectives

  • Greeting each other;
  • Introducing oneself and others;
  • Asking about nationality and birthday place;
  • Talking about countries and people;
  • Exchanging information on language;
  • Asking about age and marital status;
  • Paying compliments;
  • Responding to comments;
  • Number of people in the family;
  • Job and occupation;
  • Numerals.

Part 2

Topics covered

  • Telephone numbers;
  • Time expressions;
  • Appointment and opening hour;
  • Days and dates;
  • Plans and duration;
  • Making phone calls and sending emails;
  • Dates and days.

Grammatical structures

  • Question word “jǐ” and ‘duō shǎo’;
  • Sentence structure “cóng…dào”;
  • The use of “yǒu”;
  • Affirmative/negative question structure “ hǎo bu hǎo/xíng bu xíng”;
  • Past perfect tense;
  • Present continuous particle “zài”;
  • Use “huì” to indicate future tense.
  • How to use three particles: ‘ma’,’ne’ and ‘ba’;
  • Question words "shénme shíhou” and ‘ji hao’, ‘xing qi ji’.

Learning objectives

  • Exchanging telephone number and email address.;
  • Asking and telling the time;
  • Dates and days;
  • Discussing daily routine;
  • Making enquiry on opening hour;
  • Talking about family and asking about someone's family;
  • Discussing job and work place;
  • Discussing schooling;
  • Talking about weekly plans.

Part 3

Topics covered

  • Jobs and occupation;
  • Weather and seasons;
  • Transportation;
  • Locations and public places;
  • Directions and positions;
  • Currencies and prices;
  • Shopping.

Grammatical structures

  • Using “zài” as preposition;
  • Duōjiǔ for time and duration;
  • Use “háishì" for alternatives;
  • Common measure words.

Learning objectives

  • Making enquiry after someone;
  • Describing weather;
  • Discussing favourite seasons;
  • Talking about means of transportation;
  • Asking for directions;
  • Asking and telling prices and currencies;
  • Buying fruits;
  • Giving suggestions on buying gifts.



Prerequisite knowledge

Modules are taught at progressive levels, if you have no prior knowledge you must start at part 1 or enrol on the full syllabus (parts 1-3).

If you wish to join part 2 of the Chinese Mandarin Beginners course, you must have completed part 1 or be familiar with the content taught in part 1, specified in the What will I learn? section.

If you wish to enrol on part 3 of the short course, you must have completed both parts 1 and 2 or be familiar with the content taught in these two modules, found in the What will I learn? section.

Please check your level by using our online guidelines before enrolling.

English requirements

You will need to respond to instructions and read course documents in English.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

The emphasis of this Mandarin Chinese short course is on listening and speaking. The lessons focus on language that is required in authentic situations. Pinyin is used throughout the course.

Classroom activities will include:

  • Role-playing;
  • classroom discussion;
  • pair and group work;
  • work on pronunciation and intonation;
  • grammar in context.

Listening to audio clips and watching videos are an important element in our lessons. More comprehensive grammar exercises and reading texts are generally set as homework.

All evaluation will take place in a relaxed and informal setting.

There is no formal assessment and no qualification is issued at the end of the course, but you will be awarded an official City, University of London certificate on completion of the course. You must attend over 70 per cent of the classes to be eligible for the certificate.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

Course book:

Discover China Student Book One (Discover China Chinese Language Learning Series) Paperback – 30 Aug 2010

Students are advised to purchase their own copy of the book.

Work book (optional):

Discover China Workbook One (Discover China Chinese Language Learning Series) Paperback – 27 Sep 2010

Tutor information

  • Ping Chai

    Ping Chai started her Mandarin teaching career in Nanjing University, China, where she had studied and worked before she came to the UK and studied in Westminster University and University of Sheffield.

    Ping is a chartered linguist. She has been giving in-house specialised business Chinese training for professionals, diplomats and journalists, and practicing translation over many years. Ping also has guided some learners to take HSK, CEFR, GCSE and other exams and tests. She has tutored professionals to take professional Chinese qualification exams.

  • Jingya Huang

    Jingya Huang qualified as a Mandarin Chinese Teacher after postgraduate studies in the UK. She has taught in UK schools and worked for the Open University.

    Jingya has worked as a translator and interpreter, and taught Mandarin Chinese at all levels and business Chinese to professionals.

Next steps

This Mandarin Chinese Beyond Beginners Short Evening Course is a perfect course for students with some knowledge of Mandarin looking to perfect their language skills.…