About Spoken Chinese

People across the world are learning Mandarin Chinese (also called Zhōng-wén or Hàn-yǔ), the official and main language of China, and spoken in several countries of the Far East as well as Chinese-background communities globally.

This textbook is intended for learners of Mandarin Chinese (also called Zhōng-wén or Hàn-yǔ) who start with little or no knowledge of the language. It is written to support teachers and learners in a classroom situation where the emphasis is on developing free-flowing oral and listening skills. Students who complete a course based on this book should be at lower intermediate level.

The lessons contain dialogue, vocabulary, examples, and sentence or phrase patterns. For motivated learners, there are also additional vocabulary and some simple exercises and songs. The textbook teaches a vocabulary of 500 words, not including the songs or appendix. The appendix contains a number of grammatical patterns and explanations.

The audio that accompanies this book contains audio for the dialogues, pronunciation, vocabulary, and exercises.

Pinyin is used for writing Mandarin, but Chinese characters (simplified form) are also included where they might be of interest to some learners. Chinese characters in traditional form are included in the appendix.

Table of Contents

Introduction 4
Abbreviations and conventions 5
Lesson 1 Pinyin 7
Lesson 2 What’s your name? 13
Lesson 3 Are you a teacher? 19 (Free download)
Lesson 4 What is it? 25
Lesson 5 What day is today? 31
Lesson 6 How many family members? 37
Lesson 7 Who is she? 45
Lesson 8 What kind of food do you like? 53
Lesson 9 Where do you live? 59
Lesson 10 Introduce yourself 65
Lesson 11 Where’s the toilet? 71
Lesson 12 What are you doing? 77
Lesson 13 Are you free this Sunday? 83
Lesson 14 Have you been to China? 91
Lesson 15 What are you doing on your vacation? 97
Lesson 16 A chat about the weather 103
Lesson 17 At the breakfast shop 111
Lesson 18 What shall I do? 119
Appendix 1: Grammar 127
Appendix 2: Answers to questions 149
Appendix 3: Simplified and traditional characters 167
Appendix 4a: Glossary of words in the lessons (Chinese to English) 175
Appendix 4b: Glossary of words in the lessons (English to Chinese) 187


Dr Meili Fang is passionate about language pedagogy. She has taught Mandarin Chinese in the UK and Japan, and has researched and published extensively about language teaching and learning and about Chinese and Japanese linguistics. You can read more about her pedagogy approach and see videos of an academic presentation and students performing at her site for the Hokkien language.