Chinese Language Program

Year One: Beginning Chinese

Year One | Year Two | Year Three | Year Four


  • Speak excellent Chinese with accurate pronunciation and tones, OK if in slightly lower than natural speed.
  • Understand basic grammar rules.
  • Be able to engage in communications on topics taught in the textbook orally or in writing. You can express yourself in complex sentences or short paragraphs with limited vocabulary.
  • Recognize 600 or more Chinese characters that form 1,000 or more Chinese words.
  • By the end of the second semester, your oral proficiency level should be "Novice High."


  • Pay attention to pronunciation and tones to lay a solid foundation to future success. You will have greater difficulties to correct if you have got used to wrong pronunciation/tones.
  • When you read the lessons, you must read aloud because that will help you memorize better.
  • Don't forget the goal is to speak Chinese in a natural speed. It is NOT natural to make too many pauses.
  • It is a bad habit to read the pinyin text instead of reading Chinese characters. The best way is to listen to the audio recording while reading a lesson.
  • For Chinese characters, hand-writing is NOT so important at this stage. It takes too much time to practice hand-writing and therefore it is not an efficient way to learn Chinese. Use computer to write Chinese (full pinyin input to write Chinese characters). Use larger font (24 or larger) to stimulate your memory. NEVER write pinyin with pen because pinyin is just a tool, NOT a form of Chinese language.
  • A very useful exercise is to listen to the audio recording of a lesson and typewrite it in Chinese. Compare the Chinese you created with the textbook if see if there is any mistake.
  • Most of the textbooks of the Beginning Chinese teach Standard (idealized) Spoken Chinese that is neutral (neither formal nor informal). Don't be surprised when you hear native speakers say something differently or even contrary to the grammar rules that are often with limits.

Frequently Asked Questions