SOAS University of London

China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Languages of China & Inner Asia at SOAS: Mandarin Chinese

The lingua franca of China is known to English speakers as Mandarin, which corresponds to the old term Guanhua, “language of officials”. In the Republican period (1912-49) it was called Guoyu, “national language”, a term still in use in Taiwan and some Chinese communities outside the mainland. In the People’s Republic of China it is called Putonghua, “common language”, and it is spoken by over a billion people, either as a first or second language. It is based on the speech of Beijing and incorporates elements from Northern Chinese dialects that have been accepted into the national modern language. Mandarin is a tonal language with a complex writing system. Besides studying the spoken language, students also do close reading of a variety of texts in the original, selected from the rich literature of over two thousand years.

If you would like to learn Mandarin Chinese and the Chinese script, contact Dr Lianyi Song (ls2@soas.ac.uk) Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia.

SOAS at the Chinese Bridge Competition 2017

In 2017 Akshay Nugent, then a third year BA Chinese student won the best Eloquence prize in the Chinese Bridge competition. He didn’t enter the top three due to misinterpretation of assessment criteria by some judges although special award was given to him at a later stage.

His coaches Wanli Gao and Zhaoxia Pang were extremely proud for his performance. Zhaoxia Pang said, "when Akshy came to SOAS, he was a total beginner who didn't even know what ‘nihao’ (Hello) meant. His achievement in less than three years sets a shining example for all other students who learn Chinese at SOAS.

Loading the player...

Akshay Nugent at the 2017 Chinese Bridge Competition

Degree Programmes

Degree Course Options

Language Centre

Other Resources

Please Note: Not all courses and programmes are available every year