SOAS University of London

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

Elementary spoken Hokkien (Minnanyu, Taiwanese) (PG)

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2021/2022
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year


At least one year of intensive Mandarin Chinese. The course is intended primarily for students with a good grasp of Mandarin grammar and pronunciation, and a reading ability of a minimum of 300 characters.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • knowledge and understanding of basic Hokkien grammar
  • knowledge and understanding of essential Hokkien vocabulary
  • knowledge and understanding of the appropriateness of basic Hokkien structures and expressions in a given context
  • the ability to understand spoken Hokkien and to engage in short spoken discourse on everyday topics
  • knowledge and understanding of the role of language in general, and Hokkien in particular, in language-based scholarship and research (specific learning outcome for PG students)


A total of 22 weeks teaching with 3 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture and 2 hour language class.

Scope and syllabus

The module provides an introduction to Hokkien language with emphasis on practical spoken Hokkien. It covers phonology (including tone patterns and tone changes), sentence patterns and basic grammar. Communicative practice is established through learning language around dialogues dealing with a range of everyday situations, including travelling, buying and selling, and urban and rural family life.

The module provides students with a basic knowledge of Hokkien and practice of using Hokkien in a variety of everyday situations. It allows students to interact with Hokkien speakers in Hokkien. This provides students with a basis to approach research topics relating to Hokkien language and the histories, societies and cultures associated with Hokkien.

A series of special PG lectures with associated seminars structured around the six themes Structure, Texts, Identity, Society, Translation and Transformation (provided for PG students studying different languages) introduces students to general questions of the role of language in language-based scholarship and research and provides them with the critical and methodological skills to relate their language acquisition to the thematic aspects of the studies.

Method of assessment

An essay of 3000 words to be submitted on Friday week 1, term 3 (30%); an essay of 1500 words to be submitted on Friday week 1, term 3 (15%). a mid-year oral examination (end of term 1) 10 minutes duration (20%); an end of year oral (term 3) 20 minutes duration (35%). 

Suggested reading

The module will be based on:

  • Zheng Weiliang et al.: Shenghuo Taiyu. Taipei: Zili Wanbao, 1996 (or equivalent)
  • additional materials which will be made available throughout the course.
Additional Hokkien References:
  • Klöter, Henning: Written Taiwanese. Leiden: Universiteit Leiden, 2003.  
    Li, Charles N., Sandra A. Thompson: Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1989.  
    Lin, Shuang-fu: A Grammar of Disjunctive Questions in Taiwanese. Taipei: Student Book Co., 1975  
    Ramsey, S. Robert: The Languages of China. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1987.  
    Norman, Jerry: Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988.  
    Weingartner, Frederic F.: Tones in Taiwanese. Taipei: Ching Hua Press, 1970


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules