Main Navigation

About Chinese

The Chinese language (also called 汉语 Hanyu, 中文 Zhongwen, or 华语 Huawen) is a member of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. About one-fifth of the world speaks some form of Chinese as its native language, making it the most spoken language in the world.

The IVC Chinese program teaches standard Mandarin Chinese and simplified Chinese characters. Mandarin Chinese, known as common words or national language (普通话 pu-tong-hua, or 国语 guo-yu ), is based on the dialect of Beijing. Standard Mandarin is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, one of the four official languages of Singapore, and one of six official languages of the United Nations. Standard Mandarin also corresponds to the written Chinese forms – 汉字  hanzi (Chinese characters) used by all Chinese speakers around the world.

The Key to Learning Chinese


Patience is the first key to your success. Exposing your ears to native Chinese speaking or using audio programs will help you get used to this new sound. Don't be frustrated with yourself when you find that you can only understand a few words at the beginning.


Practice is the second key. Activities such as practicing with a Chinese teacher, pairing with a language partner, or visiting a Chinese restaurant or market can help you use the language and create your own conversations.


Practice writing each character at least 10 times every day until you can remember it. Quiz yourself periodically to test your memory. As you write, think of the sound and meaning of the character and say it out loud.


Read easy written materials or short paragraphs frequently until you can read the characters without help of Pinyin. Don't be frustrated if you find some characters you do not understand; go back to practice more vocabulary and read again.