Chinese (Mandarin): Beginners - Part 1


Join this interactive course to learn Chinese language and explore its culture.

This 10-week course is for complete beginners in the language and those who have acquired some expressions informally through travel or socialising.

To help develop your fluency in the language, the course will focus primarily on speaking and listening skills, but will also include practice in reading and writing. You will have plenty of opportunities to practise the target language through hands-on collaborative class activities such as conversations and role-plays.

The course is pitched at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and completion of the course will help you meet some of the level requirements. 

Programme details

Course starts: 26 Sept 2023

Our public programme is open access, and most adult language classes are mixed ability. The weekly course schedule below is intended to give an overview of the main topics likely to be covered in each session. Please note that these may sometimes change according to the tutor’s discretion to reflect the interests of course participants.

Week 1:  Getting started - Experiencing Chinese

  • Introduction to Chinese language - Chinese Mandarin,  Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese
  • Introduction to Chinese Pinyin - alphabetic letters, four tones and pronunciation
  • Introduction to numbers 1-10
  • Some basic Chinese phrases

Week 2:   你好 !  (Unit 1/L1)

  • Exchanging greetings
  • Introduction to Pinyin rules
  • Counting from 11 to 99
  • Cultural corner: Chinese names and their meanings; Chinese and numbers

Week 3:   你好!(Unit 1/L2)

  • Greetings, introducing oneself and asking people's names
  • Addressing people with extended vocabulary
  • Chinese, computers, and Pinyin

Week 4:  你好!(Unit 1/L3)

  • Communicative activities including classroom expressions
  • Introduction to radicals and Chinese character writing - strokes and rules of stroke order
  • Introduction to Chinese word formation and the relationship between radicals, characters and words

Week 5:  你是哪里人?(Unit 2/L1)

  • Countries, people and their nationalities
  • Asking for and giving information about nationalities
  • Asking for and giving information about where people live

Week 6:  你是哪里人?(Unit 2/L2)

  • Learn more about people and their nationalities
  • Reading descriptions about real people, where they live and where they are from
  • Additional classroom expressions

Week 7   你是哪里人?(Unit 2/L3)

  • Communicative activities & unit review
  • Learning more radicals
  • Cultural corner: Chinese dialects

Week 8:  你做什么工作?(Unit 3/L1)

  • Jobs and occupations
  • Asking and answering questions about one's family members, their names, occupations and where they live
  • Pinyin consolidation

Week 9:  你做什么工作? (Unit 3/L2)

  • Learn more about occupations
  • Read about family members and related information
  • Cultural corner: How to identify Chinese family members

Week 10: 你做什么工作? (Unit 3/L3)

  • Communicative activities and unit review
  • Learn more radicals and characters
  • Overall revision on Pinyin and language

Key grammar points:

* Basic sentence structure including pronouns as modifers

* Types of sentence patterns & different types of interrogative sentences

* Usage of some common adverbs including 也/都/不/很

* Introduction to parts of speech including pronouns, verbs and adjectives

Key functions:

* Exchanging greetings

* Asking for and giving information about one's names, nationalities and where they live

* Describing family members and their occupations

* Recognising & writing some basic Chinese radicals/Character


Students who attend a minimum of 70% of classes will receive a Certificate of Attendance.


Description Costs
Course Fee £251.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:

Concessionary fees for short courses


Mrs Zhao Godfrey

Born in the city of Tangshan in North China, Huiqiu Zhao studied English at the University of Shandong. She has been working as a freelance translator, interpreter, teacher and examiner in the UK since 1995.

Course aims

To enable participants to communicate at a very basic level with speakers of the target language in a limited range of practical, real-life settings.

Course objectives:

  • To help students develop the language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing for very basic routine communication in the target language.
  • To enable students to use a range of high frequency vocabulary and grammar structures for very basic routine interaction in the target language.
  • To equip students with an initial appreciation of the culture and civilisation of the country (or countries) in which the target language is spoken.

Teaching methods

You will learn through a communicative teaching approach with the emphasis on actively engaging in classroom activities in the target language. These are likely to include role-plays, pair- and small group-work, and conversational practice conducted in a supportive, friendly and informal learning environment.

The course has been structured to help you primarily to develop your speaking and listening skills and to gradually gain an insight into the culture and daily life of your target language. You will also learn and practise new grammatical structures in a communicative context and will be encouraged to develop your reading and writing skills in your own time.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • use very simple phrases and utterances to provide basic personal information, such as name, address, family members and nationality;
  • interact in a simple way using a very basic range of language in routine everyday contexts;
  • understand the gist of very short, simple written texts and audio/video excerpts containing the highest frequency vocabulary items and basic grammar structures;
  • produce simple phrases and very short texts using basic structures and vocabulary items.

Assessment methods

You will be set short, optional assignments to consolidate your learning and to allow you to progress at your own pace.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an enrolment form (Word) or enrolment form (Pdf).

Level and demands