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The Open University

Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course

The Open University via OpenLearn


Learn about Mandarin Chinese as a tool for communication and gain insights into Chinese society and culture. This free course, Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course, provides a brief introduction to the Chinese language, its scripts and sounds, and how words are formed. You will hear short conversations where people greet each other and introduce themselves, and learn how to count from one to ten. You’ll learn different ways of saying your name and greeting people, as well as give your telephone number. This OpenLearn course is introductory material for absolute beginners in Chinese.


  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes
  • 1 The Chinese language
  • 1 The Chinese language
  • 1.1 Varieties of Chinese
  • 1.2 Pinyin
  • 1.3 Tones
  • 1.4 Chinese characters
  • 1.5 Simplified and traditional forms of Chinese characters
  • 1.6 Word formation
  • 1.7 How to memorise and combine characters
  • 2 Greetings
  • 2 Greetings
  • 3 Introducing oneself
  • 3 Introducing oneself
  • 3.1 Nationalities
  • 3.2 Professional titles and basic professions
  • 4 Basic numbers
  • 4 Basic numbers
  • Conclusion
  • Further reading
  • Take the next step
  • Acknowledgements


4.0 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at OpenLearn based on 18 ratings

Start your review of Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course

  • Fátima Catarino
    Conhecimento básico mas com conteúdo relevante para um primeiro contacto.
    Muito bom para iniciantes.

  • Profile image for NIHARI G
    for beginners it would have been better for them to teach from scratch so that it could be more easy but overall it was good.

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