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Learn about Mandarin Chinese as a tool for communication and gain insights into Chinese society and culture. This free course, Beginners’ Chinese, provides a brief introduction to the Chinese language, its scripts and sounds, and how words are formed. You will hear short conversations where people greet each other, introduce themselves, describe where they come from and what they do for a living. You’ll hear them talk about their daily activities and order food and drinks in a restaurant. This OpenLearn course will be easily accessible for those with some basic knowledge of Chinese.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand varieties of the Chinese language
- understand the sound system of Mandarin Chinese (pinyin and tones)
- understand simplified and traditional forms of Chinese characters and how they are combined together to form new meanings
- demonstrate an improved vocabulary and pronunciation related to names, nationalities, professions, age, daily activities, languages and ordering food and drinks
- demonstrate a cultural understanding of how professional titles are used to address people.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 The Chinese Language
- 2 Introducing oneself
- 3 Describing your activities
- 4 Names of languages
- 5 Food and drinks
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
This free course, Beginners' Chinese , is introductory material and was chosen to be easily accessible for those with some basic knowledge of Chinese. This course concentrates on Mandarin Chinese as a tool for communication, but also provides some insights into Chinese society and culture. It contains a brief introduction to the Chinese language, its scripts and sounds, and how words are formed. The language activities and audio extracts presented here are not meant for a complete course (i.e. not designed to move progressively from one to another), but are samples to give you a taste of what it is like if you sign up for the Open University’s Beginners’ Chinese course. You will hear short conversations where people greet each other, introduce themselves, describe where they come from and what they do for a living. You’ll hear them talk about their daily activities and order food and drinks in a restaurant.
The Open University is conducting a survey investigating how people use the free educational content from our OpenLearn website. The aim is to provide a better free learning experience for everyone. If you have 10 minutes to spare, we’d be delighted if you could take part and
Please note this will take you out of this course.
Before you continue with this course, make sure you have enabled the Chinese font on your computer. The document linked below gives step-by-step instructions for both PC and Mac users. Right-click on the link to open the document in a new tab or window.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course L197 Beginners’ Chinese .
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 29th March 2016
Last updated on: Tuesday, 29th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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