Go Back

MANDARIN VS. CANTONESE: WHICH LANGUAGE TO LEARN

China has become an economic and cultural powerhouse on the world stage, which means learning the Chinese language should be on your “to-do” list.

Whether you’re a business professional or a student, being able to communicate with potential clients, professors, or future managers, is a skill you’ll never regret gaining.
So, one of the most important questions new Chinese learners must ask themselves is: “Should I learn Mandarin or Cantonese?”

The short answer is that you should learn Mandarin. But, let us explain why in a bit more detail along with the differences between the two languages.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO LANGUAGES?


Mandarin and Cantonese are dialects of the Chinese language, and both are spoken in China. Even though they share the same base alphabet, they are two different languages.

Mandarin is the official state language of China and is the primary spoken language in most countries, including Kunming, Beijing, and Shanghai. It’s also the main dialect in Taiwan and Singapore.

Mandarin has become the language of business, tourism, and education, with more people than ever learning Mandarin as a second language. There are more than 960 million native Mandarin speakers worldwide.

Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong, Macau, and the Guangdong province. Many foreign Chinese communities in cities like London and San Fransisco speak Cantonese. This is because, historically, many Chinese immigrants came from Guangdong. There are more than 60 million native Cantonese speakers worldwide.

Cantonese is known as a more difficult language to learn compared to Mandarin. Both languages have different tones, but the use of tones in Cantonese is even more challenging because it has between 6 and 9 different tones. Mandarin only has 4.

The characters and grammar are very similar between Mandarin and Cantonese. In fact, reading one language means you will be able to understand the other language a bit. Be warned: some characters will have somewhat different meanings.

While there are these similarities, there are major differences too. The sounds of spoken Mandarin and Cantonese are very different. Just because you can understand both written languages doesn’t mean you can understand or speak both.

WHICH ONE SHOULD I LEARN AND WHY?


You should learn Mandarin.

This is because it’s the official language of China and is taught by most Chinese schools, colleges, and universities.

If your goal is to be widely understood, Mandarin will give you that capability. It’s the most widely spoken language in the world, which means somewhere down the road, you will more than likely run into someone whose first language is Mandarin.

When you decide to learn either Mandarin or Cantonese, consider how you will use it and what language will benefit you the most. When you’re in the process of deciding, consider where you’re going to study the language.

If you’re hoping to head to China to become fluent in Mandarin, consider Keats School.

At Keats, we teach Mandarin to hundreds of people every year who want to gain fluency. Our teachers are professionals who receive ongoing training to help students gain a deeper understanding of the language. We believe at Keats, the language to learn is Mandarin because you can easily practice your Mandarin on the street or in a restaurant in Kunming. As Kunming is the capital city of Yunnan province, almost everyone in Kunming can speak standard Mandarin.

We offer eight different study options, which are all customizable for the student’s needs. We believe that there are many benefits to learning the Mandarin language, and we hope you pick Keats School as the place you will learn this remarkable language. To get started today, visit our courses page, or apply directly online.

Related Articles

Travel in Yunnan – Everything You Need to Know

January 17, 2024
Contents1 Popular destinations you can explore in Yunnan2 A Brief Introduction to Dali2.1 Things to do…

Become a Chinese Teacher – Everything You Need To Know

August 27, 2023
The reality that Chinese language teachers are in great demand tells us that you can take…

Chinese reading app review – maayot

June 21, 2023
Do you think learning Chinese is too difficult? You don’t have enough time to study? Maybe…

Which Chinese Language Program
is right for you?

OVER 7000+ STUDENTS
HAVE STUDIED AT KEATS

Sanny | USA
Intensive One-on-One Chinese Classes

I have to say it’s tons of fun. I have been here for 2 weeks. Not knowing what it was gonna be like, I was more than surprised at how great it is. The teachers are great, they are understanding. They do a Chinese language program that suits just you. The location is perfect for learning Chinese in China.

Joep | Netherlands
Intensive One-on-One Chinese Classes

I have been to Keats School to learn Chinese for 4 times now. The reason for coming back to this school is pretty much that the teachers I did work with were very good Chinese teachers. I make it a 5-year plan or even a 10-year plan to come back to this school.  All the teachers have methods of looking at what your skills are. They are aware of at what level you are. I think it is worth for everyone.

Dr. Med. Beatrice | Austria
Intensive One-on-One Chinese Classes

I decided to learn Chinese in Kunming because I like smaller cities and I like the climate here. We had four hours a day study here and my dear teacher taught me very much and never lost her patience with me. It was a really wonderful experience to be here and I recommend Keats school and the teachers here to everyone who likes to learn Chinese in China.

Robert | Netherlands
Small Group Chinese Class

Since last semester, we started studying Chinese at Keats. It was the best choice we can ever make. It is a really good school. The classes are a lot of fun, you learn a lot, but very interactive, so you talk a lot which means it is not just books and writing. Kunming is a really pleasant city to live in, especially if you compare it to other cities in the east. If you like to travel, if you like to study Chinese in a fun way, Keats has the best Chinese language program for you.

Paul | UK
Intensive One-on-One Chinese Classes

All teachers are really lovely. The teaching level at Keats is so much higher. I really love the city. It is very comfortable to get around. I fully recommend Keats. It is a great place to study Chinese in China. We are looking forward to coming back again later this year.

SJOERD | Netherlands
Small Group Chinese Class

We use a lot of games to learn grammar and new words. We have really good teachers, really patient. She helps us a lot. Our class is really nice and we have people from all over the world, different countries. We often discuss topics in Chinese in our class. I live in the dorm of Keats. It is very convenient. I don’t have to spend time traveling. You can just focus on learning Chinese.

Stew | UK
Small Group Chinese Class

The place is very cool. I am with a great group of people in my class, so coming to classes is very enjoyable. It is fun, we have a lot of discussions, games, activities. Our teachers are also very good, very supportive. Learning Chinese is intimidating at the start because you have so many questions. But I would advise coming to Keats because the atmosphere for learning is great. It is very relaxing. I would recommend the school.

Hilary | USA
Intensive One-on-One Chinese Classes

I’ve had a really great time here. I’ve studied a lot with my teacher who was fantastic. Keats School tried very hard to match its students with really good teachers that their personality works very well together. I really enjoy studying Chinese at Keats and I will definitely come back.

Exit mobile version