Chinese Language Learning

The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese. Other languages spoken include Hokkien or Minnan, Hakka, and some aboriginal languages and dialects; however Mandarin is the most widespread and commonly used language.

pic Chinese language displays

Mandarin Chinese is a complex language, with a great deal of tonal variation in its pronunciation. The language uses over 5000 characters, rather than a set alphabet.

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few basic phrases and greetings in Chinese- use our Chinese Language Cheat sheet (size = 44.8KB ).

Most sounds are similar to those in English, with the following exceptions:

-- j, q, x, should be pronounced j, ch, s, respectively, with your tongue touching your bottom front teeth, and the air hissing over the middle, flat part of your tongue.

-- zh, ch, sh, should be pronounced j, ch, sh respectively, with your tongue curled up and back, reaching up and touching the middle of the roof of your mouth.

-- z, c, s, should be pronounced dz, ts, s respectively, with the tip of your tongue somewhere near the base of your front teeth.

-- a as in father

-- e as in the a in about

-- i as in see

-- o as in flow, but don't put the w on the end. Just kind of let it hang without pursing your lips

-- u as in oooooo

-- ao as in you dropped something on your foot

-- ei as in hey!

pic Chines calligraphy

Travelers should also keep the name of their hotel and/or destinations in written form with them at all times for use with taxi drivers and asking passers-by for directions.

While a simplified form of Chinese (Pinyin) has gained popularity in mainland China, in Taiwan the traditional Mandarin form remains the language of choice.

This makes Taiwan an excellent place for learning Chinese. In addition to the range of courses available, the extremely common use of Mandarin makes this an excellent "immersion" atmosphere for the student.

Taiwan is also the most ideal place to learn Chinese. There are numerous language schools that offer Chinese classes, ranging from hourly-based classes to recognized university programs. Many foreigners from Europe and the United States, as well as other areas, come to Taiwan to spend their holidays, or one or two years, studying Chinese.

For more information on language schools visit National Taiwan University, Taiwan Normal University and Youth Travel.