Q: What is Mandarin? What is Chinese? And what is Cantonese?
A: There is no language called “Chinese” language – just like there is no language called the “Indian” Language. Languages like Hindi, Marathi and Tamil are Indian Languages. Similarly Mandarin, Cantonese or Hokkien are some of the Chinese Languages. Of these, Mandarin is the most spoken (960 million). Cantonese is influential in Guangdong Province, Hongkong, Macau and Taiwan.
However, even in these areas, people are conversant in Mandarin, as it is the language of instruction in schools and colleges.
Mandarin is the Standard Chinese and it is the official language of Mainland China and Taiwan.
Q: What are Chinese Characters? Are they difficult to learn?
A: Chinese Characters are among the most widely adopted writing systems in the world. They also constitute the oldest continuously used system of writing in the world.
They are logograms, and there are tens of thousands of them. However, functional literacy in Chinese only requires about three to four thousand characters.
These characters have been adapted in many different Asian languages like Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.
Q: Is Chinese the most spoken language of the world?
A: Yes, Nearly 1.2 billion people (around 16% of the world’s population) speak some form of Chinese as their first language.
Q: How different is it from Japanese?
A: Chinese and Japanese are two completely different languages. They have their own works of literature, different grammatical patterns, language rules and usages. The only link between the two is the writing system i.e. the Characters. They are called ‘Kanji’ in Japan and ‘Hanzi’ in China.
It is like Hindi and Marathi, where the languages are different, but same Devanagri script is used.
Q: Pattern of learning Mandarin at The Oriental Dialogue?
A: We start with the Beginner’s Level which is a 30 hour course. This course comprises of basic greetings & introductions, and conversations related to numbers, days, dates, time, exchanging currency, likes & dislikes, etc.
The next level is Level 1. It is a 60 hour course. We start having longer conversations with a better vocabulary. During this level, you also will start reading and writing about 200 Chinese Characters. After completing Level 1 at The Oriental Dialogue, you can also take the HSK Level 1 Exam.
Level 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 follow, with an increasing time frame, and an increase in vocabulary at every level.