Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chinese for Beginners by Peking University on Coursera

Today I found a great Chinese for Beginners course on Coursera. The information came through Coursera email and I decided to give it a try. It is good! It also looks like the entire course is in Chinese Pinyin (more information about Pinyin at the bottom of this post), so it's all about conversational Mandarin and getting the tone right.

I have completed two of the four parts in the first module: "Who Are You?" and "Where Are You From?" I passed the two quizzes with flying colors!

Here is our teacher, Miss Liu Xiaoyu.

Additional information about the Chinese Pinyin (Source: Coursera):

The Pinyin is a system for representing standard Mandarin in the Latin alphabet. It contains 26 letters, 21 initials, 39 finals, four tones and several special spelling rules.

In 1610, a French missionary first used the Latin alphabet to record the pronunciation of Chinese characters. Then in 1958, Chinese government published the "Scheme for the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet" officially. Later in 1977, the UN adopted Pinyin as the international spelling standards of Chinese geographical names and the scheme became ISO 7098(Roman alphabet spellings for Chinese) in 1982.

The Pinyin has become the educational-based content in Chinese mainland and a essential part in Chinese- speaking communities overseas.

The laws of Chinese Pinyin are relatively simple, which plays an important in popularizing Chinese characters and primary education. With the popularization of computer technology, Pinyin has become a very popular Chinese input method besides character stroke input.

Because Pinyin is only for recording the pronunciation, it can never be the substitute of Chinese character. The article that completely written by Pinyin is difficult to understand. Therefore, Pinyin is not a formal way of writing and it is just a reading aid.

If you're interested in this Chinese for Beginners course offered by the Peking University, do give it a go! Happy learning!