Mandarin Chinese level 1

The Chinese language – did you know?

  • Chinese is one of the oldest languages still in use. Its origins come from the discovery of the famous Oracle Bones and what is believed to be the earliest samplings of Chinese script. These bones date from the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE). With such a rich history, Chinese has undergone many changes and influences due to wars and cultural shifts.

  • The Chinese language was developed using images and many of the Chinese characters used today come from ancient drawings of the items they are meant to describe. This is helpful for those learning Chinese for the first time. A common example is the word for mountain "shan, 山." The three points of the character are meant to resemble the three peaks of a mountain ridge.

  • About 1.3 billion people speak some form of Chinese, making it the language with the most native speakers. The Chinese language, spoken in the form of Standard Mandarin, is the official language in the largest part of mainland China and Taiwan, one of the four in Singapore, and an official idiom of the United Nations.

  • There are over 20,000 distinct Chinese characters but about 98% of written Chinese consists of the same 2,500 characters, so you can successfully read the newspaper even if you can only identify two or three thousand!


  • Grammatically, Mandarin Chinese is relatively simple since it has no genders, verb conjugations or difference between singular and plural. However, the language has four tones, which means that a word can mean four different things, depending on pronunciation!

  • Every year, on 20 April, the United Nations celebrate World Chinese Language Day. This date corresponds with the “Rain of Millet” in the Chinese calendar and as such, celebrates the legendary Chinese historian Cangjie, who is credited with inventing the Chinese characters. According to the tales, when he did so, “the deities and ghosts cried and the sky rained millet.”

 

Modules available:

Mandarin Chinese level 1

Methodology: Teaching is communicative with class work emphasising listening, speaking and practice of sentence structure. Self-study consists of reviewing work done in class and practising language skills as advised by the tutor. Resources to support the course will be provided for you.  

Description: Level 1 assumes no previous knowledge of the language.

The course introduces some of the basic structures of the language through topics related to everyday life in China. The focus is on listening, speaking and reading basic materials that introduce grammatical structures which will facilitate manipulation of the language. An aspect/aspects of Chinese culture will be incorporated into each class.  

Classes will take place between 18:00-20:00*.

Additional information:

Mandarin Chinese level 1

Tutor: Ms Shan Qiu.

Class dates: Starting in week commencing 18 October 2021 and finishing week commencing 7 March 2022.

Class times: Wednesday 18:00-20:00.

Frequency of class: 120 minutes of class contact and approximately 60 minutes of self-study a week are recommended in order to make good progress.

Venue: Cookworthy Building, Plymouth Business School.

Course fee: Students: £40; Staff: £60; External participants: £70.

Number of students: Maximum 23.

Resources: These will be provided for you in class/on the DLE. 

Cancelled classes: Any classes that are cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances will be re-arranged by your tutor for a later date.

Provisional schedule

Semester 1

DATE TOPIC CONTENT CULTURE
18.10.21 A general introduction of Chinese language and Chinese culture Introduction to Pinyin initials, finals and tones. Greetings. Numbers 1-10. A first glimpse at Chinese characters – writing your name. Introductory information about China.
25.10.21 Greetings and Introduce yourself (Part 1) Revision of Pinyin. Revision of Greetings. Introduce yourself. Festivals of China. Chinese Zodiacs.
01.11.21 Greetings and Introduce yourself (Part 2) Initiating a conversation. Vocabulary expansion(Greetings and Introduce yourself). Practice. Chinese Food.
08.11.21 Introduce yourself (Part 3) Practising short conversations. Vocabulary expansion (Languages and countries of the world; year/month/date). A tour of Beijing and Shanghai.
15.11.21 Describing yourself. The family. Revision of vocabulary and grammar. New expressions and vocabulary (Family, where you live, where you come from). Practice. The Silk Road.
22.11.21 Leisure & interests Revision of vocabulary and grammar. New expressions and vocabulary (the time, describing your hobbies). Practice. Chinese history.

The above is an indication of content that may be covered over the duration of the course, but it could vary depending on the level and progress of students in the class.

Semester 2

DATE TOPIC CONTENT CULTURE
31.01.22 Chinese characters Language refresher. Re-visiting Chinese characters.Practice writing Chinese characters. Learn to read Chinese with ease. Chinese Spring Festival. An introduction to Chinese ethnic groups.
07.02.22 Food and Drink Revision of Chinese characters. New expressions and vocabulary (Describing food and drink). Practice. Buddhism Taoism and Confucianism in China. The Peking Opera.
14.02.22 A visit to a Chinese restaurant   Revision of vocabulary (food and drink). New expressions and vocabulary (a typical conversation when visiting a Chinese restaurant). Practice. Chinese painting.
21.02.22 Places and directions Revision (a typical conversation in a Chinese restaurant). New expressions and vocabulary (places and directions). Practice. Chinese arts and crafts.
28.02.22 Holiday plans. A hotel visit. Revision of vocabulary and conversations. New expressions and vocabulary (holiday plans, a visit to a hotel). Practice. Chinese martial art. Chinese poems.
07.03.22 Travel Revision of vocabulary and conversations. New expressions and vocabulary (travel). Practice. Chinese poems presentation (Activity). Chinese paper cutting (Activity).

The above is an indication of content that may be covered over the duration of the course, but it could vary depending on the level and progress of students in the class.

* We reserve the right to deliver classes via zoom if Covid safety advice changes over the course of 21/22