After two months, I will be moving to Hong Kong for my Bachelor's degree. Before doing so, I decided to spend my time learning Chinese to lessen the burden in the future. As I was searching for a course in Udemy, I came across this course. However when reading the description, I realized that the lecturer had written Chinese(Mandarin). So, does this mean that it is a Mandarin course? Or is Mandarin and Chinese very related? If this course is teaching Mandarin and if Mandarin is a way different language than Chinese, would it have any use in Hong Kong?
Welcome to Hong Kong!
You can communicate without issue using English in Hong Kong. You can optionally learn (spoken) Cantonese / Mandarin as you wish.
First of all, you will have no difficulties using English in daily life, especially in university. Basically, everyone in university can speak English. Except, some professors / tutors from other countries speak English with dialects which maybe more difficult to understand.
Also, basically all Hongkongers under age 40 can speak English, as it is compulsory to learn in school. And actually many over age 40 speak English as well.
The spoken official languages of Hong Kong are Cantonese and English. (Hong Kong was British colony before 1997.)
Besides, most of the signs in public areas (like road signs) in Hong Kong are bilingual (Traditional Chinese + English). Some restaurant provides bilingual menus or English menu upon request.
So, no worries! There will be no problem using English in restaurants, shops and transportation. (Just don't speak too fast.)
For Chinese, it is more confusing! These are the basic classifications of "Chinese".
- Written: Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese
- Spoken: Cantonese, Mandarin, etc.
Traditional Chinese + Mandarin: Taiwan
Simplified Chinese + Cantonese: Guangdong province of China
Simplified Chinese + Mandarin: Other parts of China
(Maybe someone can further clarify the popularity of Cantonese & Mandarin in Singapore & Malaysia)
Cantonese is the mother language of Hong Kong (as well as Macau). People speak in Cantonese.
Meanwhile, you will have no problem using Mandarin in Hong Kong as well (although most Hongkongers speak it less fluently).
What to learn?
If you like to communicate well when having your Bachelor's degree / pursue your career in Hong Kong / Macau, I would strongly recommend you to learn (spoken) Cantonese rather than Mandarin.
Otherwise, if you will pursue your career in China / Taiwan, or prefer to communicate with mainland Chinese / Taiwanese people, you can learn (spoken) Mandarin.
Written Chinese is NOT really necessary in your case.
The course you have suggested will teach Mandarin Chinese. As said above, it will be still useful in Hong Kong.
in two months only; well, i would recommend the fsi (foreign service institute) cantonese course. it was made by the us government, in a self learning style. the most important is, it's free :)
here're two site which have the pdf & mp3 file:
don't worry, you won't have difficulty in hongkong, even you don't speak any cantonese. however, if you can, it's more fun, and might change your course of life.
beside, there're a book gweimui's hong kong story ; which describe a french girl's "hongkongization"; very interesting, have a read.
last, the hk public library has vast materials for learning, check the library first, before spending money to buy books :)
wish you good luck :)
I checked the website..yes, it teaches Mandarin.
Mandarin is the formal language in Taiwan and China Mainland (including GuangDong). //Written as Simplified Chinese in Mainland, Traditional Chinese in Taiwan.
Cantonese is used in HK and GuangDong, written as Traditional Chinese in HK.
Including other dialects used in some cities, they combined into Chinese. Cantonese is far different from Mandarin, most of movies\films released in HK have to dubbed so audiences from Taiwan and Mainland could watch them.
Sorry about my poor English, hope I helped you.
The FSI courses recommended above are a sound idea. Junior American diplomats, VoA people, and Mormon missionaries use them, and they are among the few Americans who don't make fools of themselves in Asia. Be warned, however, that the basic self-training course for somebody going out to staff a Voice of America exhibition, say, is eight hours a day for three months. Ver-ree boring, but they have no choice, and it does work.