SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Special Course in Chinese 1 (PG)

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of this course a student should be able to demonstrate . . . 

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


A total of 22 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week.  10 research seminars to be taken within SOAS.  Attendance to be proven by signature from chair and to be submitted to the Associate Dean for Masters by the last day of term 2.

Scope and syllabus

The course provides an introduction to Chinese language with emphasis on practical written and spoken Chinese. The course covers phonetics and phonology (with special attention paid to tones), characters (including aspects of origin, structures, radicals, etc.). Communicative practice is established through learning language around dialogues dealing with a range of everyday situations, including buying and selling, and giving directions.

The course provides students with a basic knowledge of Chinese and practice of using Chinese in a variety of everyday situations. It allows students to interact with Chinese speakers in Chinese.

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

One three-hour written paper taken in May/June (40%); a language learning portfolio consisting of a set of marked homework, short in-class tests, translation projects (30%); one 10 minute oral examination (10%); regular course work (10%); two tests – one at the end of term 1 (5%), one at the end of term 2 (5%).

Suggested reading

The course will be based on:

  • Colloquial Chinese by T’ung & Pollard, 1984, Routledge   (Lessons 1- 9)
  • additional materials which will be made available throughout the course.

Additional Chinese References:

  • Yip, Po-ching and Don Rimmington (1998) Basic Chinese: a grammar and workbook, Routledge
  • Ross, Claudia and Jing-Heng Sheng Ma (2006) Modern Mandarin Chinese grammar: a practical guide, Routledge


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules