China, with its 1.3 billion inhabitants (2006 estimate), corresponding to approximately 20% of the world’s population, is the world’s most populous nation. China is also one of the world’s oldest cultures and is a country with an amazing history and fantastic scenery.
With the world’s fourth largest economy and continuing fast growth, China is also an extremely attractive market. In addition, the low salary levels, the well-educated population and the well-developed infrastructure mean that the country is very interesting for many cost-conscious companies looking for locations for production facilities.
As a spoken language, Chinese consists of many local dialects, of which the most wide-spread are Mandarin, Cantonese, Mnnanhua and Shanghainese. Language variations can be very great – for example, someone who can only speak a Wu dialect can not understand someone who can only speak a Cantonese dialect. China’s official language is what we in the West call Mandarin. In Chinese there are several names for it. The official name is Putonghua, but it is also known as Guoyu and Beijinghua. Most Chinese can speak Mandarin because, as the official language, it is taught in schools and used on television.
The Chinese written language is based on Putonghua (Mandarin), and this makes it possible for the whole population to read the same newspapers, even though they cannot understand each other verbally. There are very few Chinese who can communicate in English or any other foreign language.
For many years, China has been a closed nation, and a large part of its population are not used to being around ”strangers”. China’s culture is immemorial and very different from Western cultures, and these cultural differences combined with the language barrier can be an obstacle for business collaboration. Therefore, a successful language course in Chinese will usually contain an introduction to Chinese customs, behaviour and social relations.
At BLS, we offer teaching in either Mandarin or Shanghainese.