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My adventures learning learning Chinese

From 1989 to 1994 I studied Chinese at universities in the UK and Taipei. The variety of spoken Chinese I learnt was Mandarin and I learnt to read and write Modern Standard Chinese in both traditional and simplified characters. In addition, I'm familiar with a number of phonetic transcriptions systems: Hanyu Pinyin, Wades-Giles, Yale and Bopomofo, and have studied some Classical Chinese.

While in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, I picked up a bit of Cantonese and Taiwanese

I speak Mandarin fluently and can write Modern Standard Chinese quite well, but am only able to have very basic conversations in Taiwanese and Cantonese.

我學習中文的近况

從一九八九年至一九九四年,我在英國和台灣的大學學習中文。在英國我學的是簡體字及漢語拼音,在台灣我學了繁體字、注音符號及一點文言文。在台灣,香港及中國大陸,我也學了一點台語及廣東話。

我國語說得还算流利,我寫得也還好。不過我的台語及廣東話就要差多了。

我学习汉语的近况

从一九八九年至一九九四年,我在英国和台湾的大学学习中文。在英国我学的是简体字和汉语拼音,在台湾我学了繁体字、注音符号和一点文言文。在台湾,香港和中国大陆,我也学了一点闽南话和广东话。

我普通话说得還算流利,我写得也还好。不过我的闽南话和广东话就要差多了。

Details of my experiences of learning Mandarin


My adventures learning Cantonese (廣東話)

While I was in Taipei I had a go at learning some Cantonese. With a copy of Teach Yourself Cantonese and some help from my Cantonese-speaking friends I managed to acquire a basic knowledge of the language.

In 1999 I tried to learn some more Cantonese to improve my chances of securing a job as a Chinese Student Advisor at the University of Luton. The textbook I used was Colloquial Cantonese, which is quite good, though I found the lack of Chinese characters in it somewhat frustrating.

I was invited for an interview for the Luton job, though by that time I had already been offered a job in Brighton. Having visited both Brighton and Luton the decision which to choose was not hard - the job in Luton might have been more interesting, but Brighton is a much more pleasant place to live, so I chose Brighton.

I still know enough Cantonese to understand it a bit and to have a basic conversation, but rarely have opportunities to use the language so haven't made any further progress.

Information about Cantonese | Cantonese phrases | Numbers in Cantonese Tower of Babel in Cantonese | My Cantonese learning experiences | Cantonese learning materials


My adventures learning Taiwanese (台語)

In Taiwan about 80% of the people speak Taiwanese. Most people also speak or at least understand Mandarin, though some don't. While studying and working in Taiwan (1993-1998) I sometimes had to communicate with people in Taiwanese and found the little Taiwanese I managed to learn very useful. I also have a number of Taiwanese-speaking friends.

I learnt Taiwanese through the medium of Mandarin using a textbook called Sing-wa Dai-ngi ("Living Taiwanese") which I think is only available in Taiwan, and with some help from Taiwanese-speaking friends. I also heard people speaking Taiwanese every day, as well as on the radio and TV, so became accoustomed to the sounds and rhythms of the language and can understand it to some extent, though can't speak it very well yet.

Occasionally I chat to Taiwanese people on Skype in a mixture of Taiwanese, Mandarin and English.

Information about Taiwanese | Taiwanese phrases | Tower of Babel in Taiwanese | My Taiwanese learning experiences | Taiwanese learning materials

Other languages I've studied

Welsh, French, German, Italian, Icelandic, Japanese, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Korean, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Esperanto, Hungarian, Turkish, Arabic, Czech, Irish (Gaelic), Latin, Manx (Gaelic), Russian, Urdu, British Sign Language (BSL), Hindi, Breton

About this site | Omniglot - a potted history | About me | My language learning adventures | My singing adventures | My songs | My musical adventures | My juggling adventures



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