Class-Home Resources, FAQs, News, Weekly Handout

Learning Mandarin, not “Chinese”?

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Mandarin Chinese is the official language of China, based on the Chinese variation that is spoken in Beijing as that has been where the Government is. However, the Chinese language includes:

  • Mandarin
  • Jin
  • Wu, including Shanghainese variety
  • Huizhou
  • Gan
  • Xiang
  • Min, including Taiwanese, Hokkien, Teochew and Hainanese varieties
  • Hakka
  • Yue, including Cantonese variety
  • Pinghua

The above subgroups of the Chinese language can also be mutually unintelligible! Two people could be speaking “Chinese” to each other and not have a clue what the other was saying as it sounded different and/or was structured differently.

So, if someone asks you what language your family is learning at Ni Hao Children’s Community, you can say you’re learning Mandarin, not Chinese 🙂

Mandarin is referred to in different ways depending on your point of view too:

  • Pǔtōnghuà (普通话/普通話, literally “common speech”) in Mainland China
  • Guóyǔ (國語, literally “national language”) in Taiwan
  • Huáyǔ (华语/華語) in South East Asia, where Singapore is the only country to have it as one (of four) of their official languages.
  • Zhōng wén (中文) is used elsewhere in the world. Zhōng 中 refers to the same zhōng 中 of zhōngguó (中国), which is a common name for China. The  Wén文 refers to language.

Mandarin language can also be different due to geographical and cultural differences. For example, having the same meaning but different words may be used: “Bus”

Taiwan: 公車/巴士 gōng chē / bā shì

Singapore: 巴士 bā shì

China: 公交车 gōng jiāo chē


FAQs, News, Notices

How we are doing things differently with Mandarin :)

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A page has just been put up on our site explaining why we’re different, how we teach and how your child learns Mandarin with us! It is a good read for interested families and also for anyone wanting to work for us 😉

Mandarin has traditionally been taught in a serious or rote style due to cultural and societal expectations and norms. We are not aware of anyone teaching Mandarin the way we do in around here – we’re fun, we’re different, and we learn by doing! There are no art & craft activities to fill in time, or colouring-in pages – unless we are specifically teaching art and craft vocabulary 🙂 Class time is precious and the time is better spent on active learning vs. a child quietly concentrate on colouring the sun shape in yellow.

Click here to read more, including our key guidelines in planning and evaluating our lessons.

FAQs, News

I have no idea what they’re singing on about…

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Learning any new language can be a daunting experience, especially in Ni Hao Children’s Community’s immersion environment. It’s may be more so for the parent learners than the children, as the children pick language up so much faster at their age.

I don’t understand what they’re saying!

Tip: watch the teacher’s gestures & body language as much as possible, and let us know if we can improve on this.

How do I sing that? It’s going to sound all wrong!

Tip: mimic the teacher! I’m not learning songs by reading lyrics, but listening and copying the teacher’s singing. Just don’t ask me to sing a new song by myself in front of class…

Relax, and give it a go. It’s a learning community, so it’s fine to not be singing perfectly, or to just be humming along when you have no idea what the teacher is saying! We’re in a group setting too so it’s easily camouflaged 🙂

This quote puts it quite nicely…

Don't worry about the bits you can't understand