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Published May 6th 2018
Star in the next Chinese blockbuster with Fan Bingbing (Georges Biard / BY-SA 3.0)
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.
The tricky tonal pronunciation, where a word has multiple meanings based on your inflexion, may seem intimidating, but choose the right teacher and you'll enjoy a Chinese holiday or chat with former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. In Brisbane, start with these top 9 options.
Start your language lessons with a Mandarin joke (jump to the end of this article for the translation):
You yiduì fuqi, tamen chuqù chifàn, qizi turán dà jiào: "A! Wo wàng le guan wasi, kenéng huì fasheng huozai!" Zhàngfu què anwèi ta shuo: "Méiguanxi, fanzhèng wo ye wàng le guan xi shou tái de shui." Qizi: !!!???
University of Queensland - St Lucia
The Institute of modern languages at our state's university offers tuition in over 30 languages, from Farsi to Swahili.
Choose from Mandarin or Cantonese, starting with a language taster of 3 x 1.5hr lessons on a weekday evening. If you like what you hear, continue onto survival (6 x 2hrs) and beginner (8 x 2hrs) short courses. Handouts are provided and you'll learn the basics and greetings for everyday use.
For more serious study, continue through levels 1 - 8, each taught in 2hr blocks over 23 weeks. In these lessons, you'll develop the four speech tones of Chinese language as you practise speaking, reading and writing.
There are early bird discounts, with the taster course starting at $99. For Mandarin, enrol at University of Queensland. For Cantonese, click here.
LaPont - CBD
LaPont hosts native speakers to teach to small classes, typically 6 students per session.
Each class uses the written Mandarin characters as the basis for learning to speak the language. As you converse with classmates, you'll also be mastering the common characters you'll see on holiday in China.
There is a current special of $315 for 10 x 90min courses, with further discounts if enrolling with friends. Each level, beginner, intermediate and advanced, is usually taught on multiple weekday evenings. A real bonus is the ability to attend the same class on multiple nights of the week, increasing your practise time. Enrol at LaPont.
Brisbane Chinese Language School - Rochedale
Almost 20% of the world's population speaks the Chinese language, many living within a short flight from Sydney.
Start with the beginner level 1 course to learn to read Pinyin, the Chinese alphabet, and master introductions and everyday conversations. In beginner level 2, you'll continue with the practical exercises, conversing with simple sentences which include Chinese culture and locations.
As your confidence grows, the pre-intermediate is the next step, where reading and writing are more intensive and grammar is perfected to allow easier translation between English and Chinese phrases.
The schedule is convenient if your working week is hectic, with the sessions hosted on Sat 10-11am and Sun 12pm - 3.40pm. The price for each 9-week term, with 4.5hrs teaching each week, over 40 hours total, is $200. Enrol at BCLS.
Talk your way out of trouble (Beijing Patrol / BY 2.0)
Begin your Chinese adventure with a free test of your proficiency, or choose from the course options, either one-on-one with a general or business focus, group lessons for up to 8 students, or Skype sessions.
Instead of booking a preset course duration, you can prepay your preferred number of hours, with the 24-hour option, costing $74/hour, the best value for beginners to achieve a traveller's proficiency. Skype sessions are almost 50% cheaper.
Whether choosing one-on-one or Skype, the session days and times are flexible, based on your availability. Enrol at Listen and Learn.
Chung Tian Chinese School - Priestdale, South Brisbane
For over 25 years, the Chung Tian has been teaching Mandarin to students of all ages. The school, one of the largest in QLD, has dedicated courses for children and adults.
The adult courses are offered at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels on Saturday afternoons, in 8 x 2hr terms. Each term costs $160, in a school passionate about sharing traditional Chinese culture through reading, writing and speaking.
The lessons are aimed to encourage the beginner, as you learn both simplified and the corresponding traditional Chinese characters. Enrol at Chung Tian.
Confucius Institute - Kelvin Grove
Hosted at the Queensland University of Technology, the wisdom of Confucius inspired the creation of this institute to teach Chinese language and culture to local adults, whether beginners or advanced.
Class sizes are small and the teachers are as highly qualified as the instructors in the other faculties throughout the campus. The classes build on the number of hours of Chinese language study, as you progress from introductory level I to the next introductory, intermediate and advanced classes, 7 in total, after 20 hours of study.
The 2-hour classes are held on weekday evenings, 10 per term, with fees starting at $370. The tuition cost includes textbooks and handouts and 20 hours of instructor-led teaching. There are also 10% discounts available. Enrol at QUT.
Chinese Classroom - CBD, Clayfield, Dutton Park
As China is our largest trading partner, learning Mandarin can open doors to opportunities to advance your career or grow your business. This provider focuses on the communication skills to meet and engage with clients in China and throughout Asia, wherever Mandarin is spoken.
Sessions focus on speaking the language and listening to native speakers to understand the genuine speech patterns and accent. After finishing the elementary class, you'll be able to speak 150 sentences in Mandarin. The Chinese Classroom website also lists links to online study tools.
Classes, in levels from beginner to advanced, are hosted in 10-week blocks with an average of 5 students per class. Each business-orientated session is $40. Enrol at Chinese Classroom.
Take a selfie with a dog with hands (by pxhere)
Language Trainers - throughout Brisbane
The tutors at Language Trainers begin your lessons with the easy aspects of Mandarin tonal speech. You'll learn the simple grammatical rules to build a vocab for a Chinese holiday or kickstart your goal to master the world's most spoken language.
Instead of general levels, teaching is offered in two streams - general and business, allowing both the traveller and the entrepreneur to benefit from personalised language training.
Once you've found your feet, you'll tackle the trickier concepts with one-on-one tuition customised to your needs and skill level.
The face-to-face and skype tutoring is very similar to the setup at Listen and Learn. Enrol at Language Trainers.
Brisbane Mandarin language and Chinese culture Meetup - venues throughout Brisbane
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.
The meetings vary from language lessons, lectures and activities, including Chinese calligraphy. Indulge your love of Chinese culture with like-minded souls. RSVP at Meetup You'll need a Meetup account to view their page.
A married couple who went out for dinner.
Suddenly the wife exclaimed, "Oh! I forgot to turn off the gas! There could be a fire!"
The husband tried to comfort her by saying, "Don't worry about it. I forgot to turn off the tap."
If you are in Brisbane north, you can try the Lyrebird Language Centre.
They have Saturday Mandarin classes for children at Aspley State School and Business classes at Brisbane CBD.
Very good feedback from their students.
Most Chinese tutors or teachers say that they are native Mandarin Chinese speakers, but there are about 900 million native Chinese speakers. How do you know if they really speak with accurate pronounciation?