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I'm thinking of going to China for a year to finalize my chinese. Right now it's super basic, but I'm slowly getting through HSK4. I did a bit of research on costs and standard curriculum structure.

Schools I looked at:

  1. Wuhan University
  2. Jinan University
  3. Shandong University (SDU)
  4. Tianjin University
  5. Huazhong Uni of S&T (HUST)
  6. Nanchang University
  7. BJ University of Petroleum
  8. Nankai University

Now I recently graduated and haven't had a stable income job yet, besides the average student jobs. So to save money I thought of going to Nanchang, because that's the cheapest. Then again, I see online and hear from people that they have an accent and it's also a poor province or something?

Can you guys say from experience that the accent is that significant of a difference compared to standard 普通话?Also what's your guys' opinion on the accent in other places like Shandong/Jinan or Wuhan. A contactperson told me the most standard 普通话 is spoken in BJ Uni of Petroleum. However I don't really know anyone to confirm this with.

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    People on campus are not your average Chinese people, students and teachers come from all over China, are required to have strong Mandarin and English skills, and have all sorts of accents. If you look like a foreigner, the majority people will strongly prefer to speak English with you---I feel this is a more significant problem than accents (+weather). At a HSK4 (or HSK5) level, you're at a level where you can communicate, but your interlocutor with will need to put in effort to understand, so it's not fun for them. So students mostly practice Chinese with their teacher or fellow students.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Feb 9, 2023 at 0:46
  • That is very true, HSK4 (and probably HSK5) is such an awkward level. Especially when you don't use it in day to day life so you forget a lot of the new words too. :/ Feb 9, 2023 at 20:18

4 Answers 4

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对@王肖明的回答表示同意, 普通话基本上每个地方都不会差别太大;但是总体而言大城市的普通话普及度会稍微高一些(如北京上海苏州杭州天津等),如一定要追求普通话标准性,那还是建议往北面北京东北这一块儿跑,但实际不是很受影响。

To sum up, it doesn't matter that much since most cities speak mandarin in daily conversation. (a lot of places I didn't go to as well so I'm not in a position to comment). Beijing/up north, is where the dialect is basically mandarin (so most people speak mandarin); the other areas you mentioned all have their own dialects

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The person who said beijing is closer to standard mandarin is not wrong. However it is important to note that among billions of people, very few of them actually speak standard mandarin. That is unless it is part of their job to do so (a lot of tv for example).

Everyone of these areas will sound slightly different from each other, or from any other area.

I don't think you would have any issue going to any of them speaking standard mandarin. No matter where you go, you might encounter people who speak a version less like standard mandarin, because the world is not homogenous.

If I were you, I would evaluate which school to choose on more important factors like curriculum, amenities, cost etc. Then you can always look up some videos of people in that area speaking. Then you can decide if you think there would be an issue adapting to that accent.

Again, there is very likely to be at least some adaptation of pronunciation or word choice, even in beijing. To me that is actually some of the fun of finally being immersed in the language and culture :)

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    And yes to address the title, some accents are very different, as different as scottish and american english. I wouldn't divide it as simply as south or north though. really its like boston vs new york etc. :)
    – zagrycha
    Feb 7, 2023 at 21:00
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University professors are required to pass Putonghua test at some level so at universities accents are more or less not a problem. Regional universities may have more local professors. In that case accents might be stronger.

As a native speaker from the Southwest, I found that among Mandarin regions people from Shandong are the most difficult to understand. But it's best you try for yourself. A good source of MOOC course is https://www.icourse163.org/ (free but registration needed), where it has video courses from many Chinese universities for many subjects. One course I like very much is https://www.icourse163.org/course/SDU-1002620012, which is taught by a professor who has a very typical and somewhat strong accent of Shandong. I have difficult catching certain words every now and then. Another course I like is https://www.icourse163.org/course/WHU-24002. The professor has a medium-level (I might be biased since it's closer to my local dialects, and didn't even notice the accent before listening purposefully) Hubei accent. An interesting thing is that these two accents are accented in almost non-overlapping dimensions.

Outside of universities, Putonghua is usually not used for daily communication except for big cities or in the situations where participants come from different regions. When used, it could be heavily accented. Big cities tend to have lighter accented Putonghua regardless of the local dialects. Putonghua in Mandarin regions (especially 北京官话区、东北官话区、中原官话) are less accented and in non-mandarin regions usually more accented.

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其实每个地方都有口音, 同一个县城内, 我们村和旁边村子的都有部分方言不同, 但是不影响理解. 还有比如四川(我在四川读的大学), 两个市的同学彼此交流只能用普通话, 因为方言都听不懂对方的. 
下面回答您的疑问: 
1.南昌并不算穷, 但是相对于北上广, 也可以说不是很富裕. 如果您想找寻找工作, 建议可以留到大城市, 毕竟工作机会多. 如果想要在中国玩一下那就多转几个地方, 不用把选择局限在几个一线城市.
2.对于山东、济南和武汉方言, 并不像做出评价(其实我很多地方都没去过, 不好做出评价)
3.对于您描述中说的最标准的普通话存在何处, 其实没有必要去纠结这个, 您也没必要想要谁类证明这个所谓的结论, 因为语言是用来交流的, 您在中国学习时候别人肯定也跟您说过不标准的英文(发音不对, 甚至语法都是错误的).
以上回答只是下班之余随手写下来的, 我英语能力有点弱, 所以很冒昧的使用中文给您写答案的, 我相信您是可以读懂的.
如果有其他的疑问, 可以继续回复我, 我看到后会第一时间回复的.
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  • Hmmmm, okay 吧。感谢你给我你的看法! Feb 7, 2023 at 10:20

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