What's the difference between 学校 and 学堂? I've heard that 学堂 has more classical usage, is that correct? I know that 学校 is more commonly used these days.

  • printed: 学堂 iciba:释义[旧] school
    – user6065
    Mar 7, 2016 at 2:36
  • @Stan This is complete enough to be an answer.
    – user4072
    Mar 7, 2016 at 3:06
  • @songyuanyao for this one, it'd be better to add some photos but I'm using my cellphone . . .
    – Stan
    Mar 7, 2016 at 3:51
  • 1
    @Stan Yes, it'll be better with photos, I still think your description is enough for imaging it. :)
    – user4072
    Mar 7, 2016 at 4:01
  • @Stan Perhaps you can put your explanation in an answer instead of the comments?
    – bfrguci
    Mar 7, 2016 at 6:11

3 Answers 3


The connotation of 学堂 is more than "an old expression of school", but "an old-style school in ancient China". A typical 学堂 only has one room and one teacher and few students (compared with a modern school). Just imagine the place where Confucius taught his followers.

学校: 学校

学堂: 学堂

  • 1
    It seems like 学堂 might be analogous to the English word "schoolhouse", although of course the historical context differs.
    – Mark S.
    Mar 7, 2016 at 14:31

I think in my native dialect (Wu dialect) we still call school 学堂. On the other hand, as a native Mandarin speaker I would say, albeit not all would agree with me, that whenever one would like to refer to old-style schools, one would not use 学堂 alone, but rather something like 旧式学堂. The only exception I can think of would be when the whole time setting (in a TV drama), or the context (of a written text) is already set to a specific ancient time period when 学堂 was still very colloquial.

Generally, I would not support the idea of associating additional attributes to a word, other than its minimalistic meaning. When it comes to 学堂, the first group of people to ever use it for the specific meaning of "a place to study", which the word up til today still retains (especially in dialects), was living not only with old-style schools, but also with old-style writing tools, weapons, cookers, and everything. So a further association to the styles etc is perhaps just an illusion resulting from too much influence from TV dramas. If the other guy were right about the point that 学堂 would also describe the style of the school, phrases like 新式学堂 would then make absolutely no sense at all.

But let's even forget about trying to get an absolute meaning of a word. It all depends on the context ("life form" by Wittgenstein, if you will). And the rule of thumb I'd suggest is the one I described at the very beginning.

  • Southern Min also uses 学堂 as the normal word for school :)
    – vermillon
    Mar 11, 2016 at 8:06
  • Also, in Wu dialect, 学堂, pronunced as o dang, it's commonly used to refer to school in ordinary life.
    – Huang
    Mar 17, 2016 at 23:54
  • That's because 学 is 阳入 and 堂 阳上. The yang makes the consonant vibrate and not aspirated
    – andrew
    Mar 18, 2016 at 7:40

"学校" is refer to the modern school including college and university, however, "学堂" is usually refer to antique school before the establishment of People's Republic of China, or it can be used with some words like "网络学堂" which means online class

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.