If you come to China as an English teacher for AYC, you'll be in the classroom at a maximum of 20 hours each week. Assuming you sleep 8 hours each night, that leaves 92 hours to explore the city, meet new people, try new food, and travel! To do all that, you'll want to get a head start on speaking Chinese.

Learning Chinese, a non-romance language, can seem like a daunting task. But in many respects Chinese is actually easier to learn than English.

Here's the skinny on Mandarin, and why you should learn one of the oldest and prettiest languages:

1. China has the world's largest population

China is ranked #1, closely followed by India, and all other countries' populations trail far behind. that's a population size FOUR TIMES larger than the US. Chinese has more native speakers than any other language, and when almost 19% of the world speaks the same language, you know it's worth learning.

2. No singular or plural/gender/tenses

They are all pronounced “tā.”

They are all pronounced “tā.”

Even though there's three distinct characters for he, she, and it, they're all pronounced "ta". If you need to know, the context of the sentence will help you determine the gender of the speaker or subject.


3. Complex words make sense

Rarely will you find a word larger than two characters.

My personal favorite is "fire mountain" (volcano).


4. Characters give visual cues to the word meaning...

Chinese has a long history; the earliest Chinese writings were dated as almost 4,000 years old! While many of the simplified characters (how people write today) look pretty different from the traditional characters, you can still see the pictographic history of Chinese writing.


5. ... but if it's hard to read, just learn Pinyin.

All Chinese words, in totality, are composed of the above initials (consonant sounds) and finals (vowel sounds). As you can see, the total collection of Chinese words is VASTLY smaller than our English dictionaries.

6. Because there are less words, tones indicate meaning.

This makes for an incredibly musical-sounding language! Tones indicate inflection on each word. So if you're not careful, you might accidentally call someone's mother (Ma) a horse (Ma)!


7. If you forget your numbers, just use the hand signals.

These really help when bargaining, or if you're listening to someone with a heavy regional accent!

Chinese is an ancient and beautiful language- happy learning!