Mandarin Chinese

So near yet so feared: closing doors to open minds

So near yet so feared: closing doors to open minds


Saturday, 29 September, 2012, 11:50pm


Putonghua is a vital language for us

Putonghua, also known as Mandarin, is the mainland's official language. In Hong Kong, it is the third language all students have to learn as a core subject.

More than a billion people speak the language, mostly on the mainland and in Taiwan as well. That means knowing Putonghua can help you to communicate with many people.

26 Jul 2012 - 12:00am

Summer of challenges

The summer holidays are a great time for children to focus their energies on an activity to accelerate development and have a great time developing social skills by meeting new friends.

7 Jul 2012 - 12:00am

'Sexy Mandarin' sets tongues wagging

A new website that offers Mandarin lessons taught by lingerie-clad young women has come under fire from a women's group, which says the practice promotes harmful stereotypes.

Sexy Mandarin, headquartered in Hong Kong and geared towards Western customers who want to improve their grasp of the language, aims to provide lessons 'in a sexy and unconventional way'.

10 Jun 2012 - 12:00am

Tongues of potential

My husband and I are trying to raise trilingual children, but I'm not sure how well we are doing. I see parents and families doing just that every day, and it all seems so easy as they banter back and forth in different languages.

20 May 2012 - 12:00am

Getting into characters

I remember being surprised, about eight years ago, when the boss of the research agency I worked for suggested that my colleagues and I took Putonghua lessons. At the time, almost nobody in Mumbai thought of anything beyond French or the occasional other European language lesson.

18 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

Auntie on the case

Domestic helpers who cook and clean for expatriate families are among Beijing's most effective Putonghua coaches to young children. In fact many ayi (aunties) are proud of this role, gently coaxing their charges to speak the language.

12 Feb 2012 - 12:00am

Doctored image

Academic degrees - and the manifold non-scholastic means employed to obtain them - have a long past, in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the Chinese world. Every so often, a storm in a tea- cup erupts when it's found that a public figure doesn't have the academic credentials their promotional materials suggest.

15 Jan 2012 - 12:00am

They're men of few words

Last year, while on a walking expedition across Israel and the West Bank, I stayed with a friend who was naturally gifted at languages. I asked him what was the secret to his linguistic ability. His answer was simple: 'Vocab'.

'But what's the secret to vocab?' I asked.

'Repetition,' he said.

20 Dec 2011 - 12:00am

Kungfu English

Learning a second language can be tedious, but the Third Ear series avoids that by taking an informal route. Third Ear Publishing founder Chris Lonsdale developed the programs for learning new languages based on his experiences as a senior corporate leadership coach and an expatriate learning Putonghua on the mainland.

21 Aug 2011 - 12:00am

Valuable lessons in Putonghua

They are known as third-culture children, equally at home in different environments, thanks to an upbringing in different parts of the world.

30 May 2011 - 12:00am

In a smaller world, lingos will mingle

For a diplomat, former foreign minister Li Zhaoxing certainly did not mince words. Speaking at a gathering this week about his career, he went on a diatribe against those Chinese people whom he feels fall short in respecting the purity of the national language.

'I detest those people who like to mix English words in their [Putonghua] conversations,' he said.

20 May 2011 - 12:00am

Could do better, Donald - that goes for all of us

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen should have had every reason to feel satisfied with his speech at the prestigious Peking University yesterday, holding forth on such erudite subjects as the internationalisation of the renminbi - all in the national tongue.

8 Mar 2011 - 12:00am


Cantonese should be first language

Not all Chinese-related subjects at Hong Kong secondary schools should be taught in Putonghua.

28 Feb 2011 - 12:00am

further education

Reading comprehension

Answer the following questions

1 What does Annie Yu think is the biggest challenge of studying on the mainland?

a. Sharing dormitory rooms with others

b. Showering with 100 classmates in a bath house

c. Studying Maoism and Marxism

d. Studying Putonghua

1 Feb 2011 - 12:00am