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The Chinese language has over 1.2 billion native speakers. Mandarin is the most common dialect, the official language of China, Taiwan, and Singapore and the most popular foreign language in Victorian primary schools.
Mandarin is a tonal language, using 5 tones to convey different meanings for the same words. It sounds intimidating but with the right teacher, you'll skip an early night when you really want dinner (shui jiao means dumplings or sleep, depending on your tone).
Enjoy your Chinese holiday or chat with former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
Kaixin Chinese Learning Hub for Kids - Hawthorn, Boxhill, Coburg, Glen Waverley, Kensington, Oakleigh
You've just learnt your first word - KaiXin means Happy in Mandarin. Focused on teaching Mandarin with fun storytelling and games, children will learn to read and write basic characters and calligraphy, sing Mandarin lyrics, and speak with the correct tones.
The experienced, award-winning teachers are native Mandarin speakers. The curriculum has been developed by the hub's founder, Loo See Wong, using the latest research in childhood language education.
Almost 20% of the world's population speaks a Chinese language, many living within a short flight from Melbourne. The Red Crane curriculum focuses on real-world situations, using lively and authentic dialogue to prepare students for travel adventures, business meetings and the latest Chinese films.
They've become the top pick for Melbourne's corporate and hospitality sectors, providing Mandarin training to staff at IBM, GE, Coles, Le Meridien Hotel and Cathay Pacific. Red Crane has a podcast series for supplementary practise and they've given ABC Radio's James Valentine a crash course. Listen to the 5 lessons at ABC.
Vocational Language Learning Centre - 160 William St, Melbourne
VLLC have created a 3-tier proficiency structure, guiding students to achieve social, intermediate and then vocational certification. Each course includes reading, writing and speaking, beginning with the foundation social skills including travel bookings, directions, food and drink orders, sightseeing, time and medical queries. Online learning builds on your face-to-face lessons, with homework and chat sessions hosted on the Net.
Intermediate study allows you to settle into China, finding an apartment, reading and writing business forms, listening to news stories and cope with the ultimate awkward encounter - the dentist.
Vocational certification will help you with the trickiest job interview questions, resume writing, opening a bank account, discussing current affairs and appreciating cultural nuances. Prices and schedules are customised for your needs, based on your current vocab, aims and availability. Enrol at VLLC.
JIC Language School - Level 1, The Paramount Centre, 108 Bourke St, Melbourne
After completing the 6 2-hour lessons in the first term of JIC's beginner Mandarin course, you'll be able to start a conversation, count to 10, use the different tones for correct pronunciation and write Mandarin characters.
Each course, beginner, intermediate and advanced, has five 6-week terms, designed to build your confidence, vocabulary and reading and writing ability. The teachers can also prepare students for the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, China's standard language proficiency test.
As a bonus incentive, the first 3 lessons of the beginner course are free. Just pay for the textbook to get started. Enrol at JIC Language School.
Australasian Centre of Chinese Studies - Melbourne CBD, Box Hill, Hawthorn, Glen Waverley, Bentleigh
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 ten 2-hour sessions. Enrol at ACCS.
Learn Mandarin to laugh at Confucian comedy (by JIC)
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 ten 2-hour sessions on Thursday evening or Saturday afternoon. Enrol at Macquarie Mandarin.
Marco Polo Chinese and English Translation Club - Somerset Place, Melbourne (near the corner of Elizabeth St and Little Bourke St)
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 evening, you can indulge your love of Chinese culture with like-minded souls. RSVP at Meetup.