When I went to China, it was apparent that many (sometimes most) people still spoke their local dialects instead of Standard Chinese/Putonghua (also known as "Mandarin" in English). I was told that because older people didn't know Putonghua, everyone also had to know the local dialect.

But it is China's official language. Are all schools in China required to teach only in Standard Chinese?

Are students who complete at least compulsory education in China expected to speak it fluently?

6 Answers 6


Based on my own experience, Not!

Although the schools are asked to use the Mandarin in classroom, there are still many schools that doesn't follow this rule. I was born in a little city in west China, and I had never spoken in Mandarin, before I went to the university.

In big cities, schools follow this rule, while in small cities, especially in the poor areas, many teachers are local and can't speak Mandarin very well, how could they teach the students in Mandarin? Of course, it'a trend that more and more teachers speak in Mandarin in classroom. At present, if you want to be teacher in China, you have to pass the Mandarin exam to get certified, so more and more young teachers can speak Mandarin, however, there are plenty of old teachers who can not as well.

  • 2
    "How could they teach Mandarin if they couldn't even speak it"... That was my feeling about probably 50% of the English teachers I met in China - we went to visit a few schools, and man, they had no idea at all how to speak English.
    – Ciaocibai
    Dec 15, 2011 at 3:42
  • @Ciaocibai China is a big country in terms of the area of the territory and still, there are many cities where the economics is bad, let alone the poor rural area. Especially in the poor rural area, it's hard to find a man who is capable of being and willing to be a teacher, how could you imagine the teachers there speaking Mandarin or English well?
    – Huang
    Dec 15, 2011 at 3:53

I'm not sure about that in minority regions (Tibet or XinJiang), but in the provinces where most of the population is Han, school teachers are supposed to teach in 普通话. It's sometimes related to their bonuses or teaching certificates etc. However, it's not a strict rule. Some great teachers teach in local dialects.


They will, in the future.

All teachers working for public schools (not only Chinese Language teachers) must pass the Mandarin exam to get the certificate to teach, every year.

But for now, it's still strictly enforced.


In theory, all schools are required to teach only in Mandarin. Almost every city and big town actually enforce that.

However, in Tibet and Uyghur, many schools teach in Mandarin & Tibetan/Uyghur.


Yes, standard Chinese is offical language, but many places in South of China, teachers always speak local dialects in class. Most people can understand by listening, although they're not able to takl well in standard Chinese.


The situation in mainland China is not quite so.

Most universities in China use standard Chinese for common communication, but there is no such a course.

From primary school to high school, we learn 语文. But it is not standard Chinese at all, because many teachers teach this course in regional dialects.

  • What do you mean by "but there is no such a course."?
    – Orion
    Dec 15, 2011 at 16:47
  • I mean “没这一门课”~
    – macskuz
    Dec 15, 2011 at 17:21
  • Do you mean a class that teaches standard Chinese?
    – Orion
    Dec 15, 2011 at 17:24
  • yes, i mean it.
    – macskuz
    Dec 15, 2011 at 17:41

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