From 1989 to 1994 I studied Chinese at universities in the UK and Taipei. The variety of spoken Chinese I learnt was Mandarin and I learnt to read and write Modern Standard Chinese in both traditional and simplified characters. In addition, I'm familiar with a number of phonetic transcriptions systems: Hanyu Pinyin, Wades-Giles, Yale and Bopomofo, and have studied some Classical Chinese.
While in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, I picked up a bit of Cantonese and Taiwanese
I speak Mandarin fluently and can write Modern Standard Chinese quite well, but am only able to have very basic conversations in Taiwanese and Cantonese.
Details of my experiences of learning Mandarin
While I was in Taipei I had a go at learning some Cantonese. With a copy of Teach Yourself Cantonese and some help from my Cantonese-speaking friends I managed to acquire a basic knowledge of the language.
In 1999 I tried to learn some more Cantonese to improve my chances of securing a job as a Chinese Student Advisor at the University of Luton. The textbook I used was Colloquial Cantonese, which is quite good, though I found the lack of Chinese characters in it somewhat frustrating.
I was invited for an interview for the Luton job, though by that time I had already been offered a job in Brighton. Having visited both Brighton and Luton the decision which to choose was not hard - the job in Luton might have been more interesting, but Brighton is a much more pleasant place to live, so I chose Brighton.
I still know enough Cantonese to understand it a bit and to have a basic conversation, but rarely have opportunities to use the language so haven't made any further progress.
Information about Cantonese | Phrases | Numbers | Family words | Time expressions | Tower of Babel | Learning materials
In Taiwan about 80% of the people speak Taiwanese. Most people also speak or at least understand Mandarin, though some don't. While studying and working in Taiwan (1993-1998) I sometimes had to communicate with people in Taiwanese and found the little Taiwanese I managed to learn very useful. I also have a number of Taiwanese-speaking friends.
I learnt Taiwanese through the medium of Mandarin using a textbook called Sing-wa Dai-ngi ("Living Taiwanese") which I think is only available in Taiwan, and with some help from Taiwanese-speaking friends. I also heard people speaking Taiwanese every day, as well as on the radio and TV, so became accoustomed to the sounds and rhythms of the language and can understand it to some extent, though can't speak it very well yet.
Occasionally I chat to Taiwanese people on Skype in a mixture of Taiwanese, Mandarin and English.
Information about Taiwanese | Phrases | Numbers | Family words | Time expressions | Tower of Babel | Learning materials
Welsh, French, German, Italian, Icelandic, Japanese, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Korean, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Esperanto, Hungarian, Turkish, Arabic, Czech, Irish (Gaelic), Latin, Manx (Gaelic), Russian, Urdu, British Sign Language (BSL), Hindi, Breton
About this site | Omniglot - a potted history | About me | My language learning adventures | My musical adventures | My singing adventures | Song writing | Tunesmithing | My juggling adventures
Written Chinese: Oracle Bone Script, Simplified characters, Bopomofo, Types of characters, Structure of written Chinese, Evolution of characters, How the Chinese script works, Xiao'erjing, General Chinese
Spoken Chinese: Mandarin, Dungan, Wu, Shanghainese, Wenzhounese, Yue, Cantonese, Weitou, Min, Jian'ou, Taiwanese, Teochew, Fuzhounese, Puxian, Hakka, Xiang, Gan, How many people speak Chinese?
Other Chinese pages: Chinese numbers (數碼) | Chinese classifiers (量詞) | Electronic dictionaries | Chinese links | Books: Chinese characters and calligraphy | Cantonese | Mandarin, Shanghainese, Hokkien and Taiwanese
Why not share this page:
Learn languages for free on Duolingo
If you like this site and find it useful, you can support it by making a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or by contributing in other ways. Omniglot is how I make my living.
Note: all links on this site to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.