SOAS University of London

Spoken Hokkien

Contact: Meili Fang


This project produced a modern functional beginner’s textbook with audio material for Spoken Hokkien. 

Hokkien is spoken in Taiwan and in parts of China including Fujian Province. It is also called Taiwanese, Min Nan (Southern Min), or Holo. There are several dialectal variants of Hokkien; this textbook uses the variant spoken around the Tainan area, where Hokkien is most prevalent in Taiwan.


The teaching material (textbook and audio material) for Spoken Hokkien is based:

  • on a communicative approach, featuring everyday language and conversation to enable students to function adequately and communicate efficiently in a Hokkien speaking environment
  • on a functional development of the course to help students to learn the language quickly and efficiently
  • on a revised Roman script for writing Hokkien


Of the limited teaching material available for Hokkien, most caters for learners who are (already) learners or speakers of Mandarin. This textbook is intended for learners of Hokkien who start with no or almost no knowledge of Hokkien and who come for a non-Chinese background. It is written to support teachers and leaners in a classroom situations where the emphasis is on developing free-flowing speaking and listening skills. The teacher is expected to provide models for listening and speaking.

The Hokkien orthography in this book, using modified Roman characters, is derived from a former missionary transcription system. Although this modern Romanisation is now widely used, it is not fully standardised, so other spellings are possible. In the first two lessons the International Phonetics Alphabet (IPA) is used to indicated sounds. This approach allows students to focus on the spoken language without the distraction that results inevitably from introducing Chinese script. 

The text was developed to provide a controlled and learnable sequence of vocabulary, structure and conversational functions. Ideally, each lesson should be fully mastered before moving on to the next one. Peer teaching, role play and performances, and intercultural competence are integral parts of this material.

Products, Outputs & Outcomes

The main outcome of this project is a modern functional beginner’s textbook with audio material for Spoken Hokkien. Lesson 6 "Greetings!" and Lesson 16 "How long have you been learning Taiwanese?" are available for download. For a copy of the book contact Meili Fang.

Related to this project, Meili Fang gave a talk on "Taiwanese language teaching and development in the United Kingdom" at the Taiwan Studies: British Perspectives conference at the Academia Sinica in Taipei in December 2006.