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Published March 29th 2017
Wo hen gaoxìng gen ni jiànmiàn (Pleased to meet you) (by Ultimo TAFE)
The Chinese language has over 1.2 billion native speakers, using a range of dialects, including Cantonese, the official language of Hong Kong and Macau, and Hokkien in Southeast Asia. Mandarin is the most commonly spoken dialect, the official language of China and Taiwan and the practical choice if you're choosing a Chinese dialect to learn. While the tricky tonal pronunciation, where a word has multiple meanings based on your inflection, may seem intimidating, it can be developed with the right teacher, giving you the vocabulary to enjoy a Chinese holiday or chat with former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. In Sydney, start with these top 8 options.
Sydney University - Centre for Continuing Education - Newtown
Partnered with the Uni's Confucius Institute, there are over 20 short courses, each 2 hours for 10 weeks, to help you continue doubling your Mandarin vocabulary until you can speak over 1,300 words. The first beginner's course, taught be a native speaker with experience in China and Australia, is $310. Enrol at Sydney University - Centre for Continuing Education.
University of NSW - Institute of Languages - Kensington
The language courses at UNSW are designed for travellers and for interactions with Mandarin-speaking friends, relatives and colleagues. Class sizes average at 12 for the 10 week courses, with 6 levels to achieve an advanced knowledge of Mandarin after 240 hours of study. The beginner course of 10x2-hour classes, costs $380. Enrol at University of NSW - Institute of Languages.
WEA - Sydney CBD
Almost 20% of the world's population speaks a Chinese language, many living within a short flight from Sydney. The courses are grouped in beginner, intermediate, advanced and conversation and grammar streams, use the New Practical Chinese Reader, the revised edition of the first textbook sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The beginner level 1 course in Mandarin is the best value with 9x2-hour Wednesday evening sessions for $246. Enrol at WEA.
Ni hao (Hello!) (by Ultimo TAFE)
TAFE - Ultimo
At the centre for vocational study, you can progress from a complete beginner or with some knowledge of other dialects to handle social situations, apply the correct grammatical rules and tonal pronunciation, read literature and write letters or a resume while learning more about Chinese heritage and culture. Ultimo TAFE offers courses from Certificate I to Certificate IV levels. Enrol at Ultimo TAFE.
ACCA Chinese Language School - Surry Hills
For over 40 years, the ACCA has been teaching Mandarin and Cantonese to students of all ages. The school also sponsors the Chinese Eisteddfod, school calligraphy and lantern competitions. Adult courses in either dialect are offered on Saturday afternoons for 14x2-hour sessions, costing $300. Enrol at ACCA Chinese Language School.
Australasian Centre of Chinese Studies - Sydney CBD, Ultimo, Kirribilli, Surry Hills
The ACCS's motto is 'Learn Chinese without Tears'. Specialising in Mandarin and Cantonese, there are classes available at 20 levels to progress from beginner to advanced using an accelerated learning method combining the conscious and unconscious mind (analytical and creative brain centres) with memorable role-plays, games. The beginner course is 10x2-hour sessions. Enrol at ACCS.
Máfan ni xie yixià, hao bù hao (Please write it down) (Axel Rouvin / BY 2.0)
Macquarie offers 5 strands of language learning, for English speakers, Cantonese speakers, children and students seeking an intensive or business focus. The first beginner course teaches the vocabulary and grammar to make greetings, recite numbers, tell the time, arrange daily activities and ask questions. The course is 10x2-hour sessions on Thursday evening or Saturday afternoon, costing $335. Enrol at Macquarie Mandarin.
Sydney Chinese Language & Culture Meetup - Chatswood
If you're searching for friendly Mandarin-speaking locals and fellow English-speaking learners to chat with, this Meetup group is ideal as you each hone your vocabs. Meeting each Wednesday fortnight, you can indulge your love of Chinese culture with like-minded souls. RSVP at Meetup.
Where do you feast on sweet mooncake or savoury dumplings as you learn to speak Mandarin? We'd love to hear your comments.