Language Centre

Chinese (Mandarin) Beginners Course

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Key information

1 term per sub-level; 10 weeks per term
Attendance mode
Part-time, online/blended learning

Course overview

Course aim

Chinese Beginners aims to provide students with a basic knowledge of Mandarin Chinese and focuses on the acquisition of practical communicative skills. It covers basic grammar and essential vocabulary, allowing participants to communicate in Chinese on a limited range of daily topics. Participants will have opportunities to learn to recognise and write simple Chinese characters. If students wish to continue their study of Chinese after the first term of study, the following term is entitled Chinese Beginners 2. This course is delivered by the Language Centre.


The course is taught in English and Chinese and includes coverage of the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing and a good balance between understanding the systems of Chinese grammar and vocabulary, developing the skills of comprehending and producing Chinese in speech and writing, guided practice in language usage and use and authentic communicative activities.

This will be achieved through 20 hours of blended learning: this is composed of 15 hours of online structured lessons with the teacher. This is supplemented by a minimum of 5 hours of guided independent learning supported by complementary material. The course objective will be achieved within the 10-week course.


The course is based on the textbook Contemporary Chinese, Volume 1. Revised Edition 2014.

Course materials are not included in the fee. We strongly recommend waiting until your course is confirmed before purchasing the textbook.

Entry requirements and progression route

For the first stage of Chinese Beginners (i.e. Chinese Beginners 1), no previous knowledge is required. To be able to join Beginners 2 or 3 you should have completed Beginners 1 and 2 respectively at SOAS Language Centre or have an equivalent knowledge of guided learning hours (20 hours blended learning per each sub-level). The progression route from Chinese Beginners 1 is to Chinese Beginners 2; from Beginners 2 to Beginners 3. Upon successful completion of Chinese Beginners 3 you will be able to progress to an Elementary level course in Mandarin Chinese.

Please note, that each term, courses are subject to quorum requirements.

For course dates and information, please see our timetables.


Chinese Beginners 1

  • greet and introduce yourself and others
  • ask and give personal information (name, marital status...)
  • ask and say where someone is from
  • talk about languages one speaks
  • ask and give directions
  • use numbers (phone numbers)
  • use days of the week, weekend, months, to talk about daily routines
  • make comments
  • how to receive guests

Chinese Beginners 2

  • further talk about extended family and schools
  • express intensions and reasons
  • offer and accept options
  • make simple comments
  • identify possessions
  • shopping for clothes (colour, size and types of clothes)
  • going to restaurant (ordering, recommendations, paying)
  • express preference, permission and ability
  • superlative degree

Chinese Beginners 3

  • holiday plans
  • book a date with friends, agreeing time and place to meet
  • recreational activities
  • plans and arrangement for a slight distant future
  • worries and reassurances
  • description of personal appearance
  • asking for directions
  • describing location
  • going places (via various means of transportation)

The above is an indication of content that may be covered over the duration of the course but it could vary depending on the level and progress of students in the class.

Contact us


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Related information

See the full list of Language Centre short courses in Chinese on the Chinese language homepage.