Difficulties of taking mandarin classes in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an international city where all languages are spoken here, Hong Kong local people speak Cantonese language as their mother language, and Cantonese language is different from Mandarin, which is the official Chinese language spoken by 1.3 billion people in mainland China. Although Cantonese and mandarin have some similarities in pronunciation and grammar, it is sometimes difficult to learn the mandarin language here in Hong Kong. There are few reasons.
1. Cantonese people don’t speak standard mandarin language.
As we all know the fact is Cantonese people here in Hong Kong speak Cantonese as a Chinese language, hence, it is difficult even for them to speak standard Mandarin language, it is hard for a foreigner to learn Chinese in Hong Kong since you don’t have much opportunity to practice with the local who don’t speak the language you are learning accurately, as Mainland China and Hong Kong cooperate more frequently now, we see that a lot of local Cantonese people are trying to learn Mandarin, they are trying to speak more standard Mandarin than ever before. This is a great opportunity for even foreigner to practice Mandarin in Hong Kong.
2. Sometimes you find it hard to practice Mandarin with local people
Given that the local Cantonese people don’t speak good Mandarin, they are sometimes reluctant to speak to the foreigners, it makes foreigner practice Mandarin in Hong Kong more difficult, so the only opportunity to practice maybe in the Mandarin classes with their Mandarin teachers, that obviously that is not enough, since you might have only 2 hours or 3 hours lessons a week, that is very hard for a foreigner to improve their Mandarin level, in that case, we also recommend foreigner to use APPs or Youtube vides to help them to get better Mandarin when they get free time at home.
3. Cantonese people are quite proud of their local language
Cantonese language has much longer history than Mandarin official language, and Cantonese people learn Chinese traditional Characters when they are in school, so they are very proud of their local language, honestly speaking, traditional Chinese characters carry more culture information, and also they are more meaningful! Even Cantonese language is harder than Mandarin, the local people sometimes don’t want to learn the Mandarin language, they sometimes even don’t like to read or write simplified Chinese characters.
4. Hard to find some good teachers in Hong Kong from mainland China or Beijing tutor
Sometimes it is hard for students to find good Mandarin tutors in Hong Kong, since the COVID19 outbreak, a lot of mainland Chinese tutors went back to China, they might not even come back to Hong Kong in the future, nowadays going back and forth from China to Hong Kong is very difficult, many Chinese tutors worry about when the boarder will reopen, so they might just return to their home city and see how it goes in the future, therefore, lack of good teachers is another reason for students to learn Mandarin in Hong Kong.
4. You don’t hear Mandarin language everyday
News or radios in Hong Kong are broadcasted in Cantonese language, it is hard to hear enough Mandarin language, although you can get to watch CCTV, the Chinese tv programs in Chinese, there are not many choices, if you go on the street, you won’t hear enough Mandarin instead of Cantonese. A good way to hear more Mandarin is to go online with Youtube or other language programs, there are massive information you need to practice you Mandarin, from formal lessons to stories in Mandarin, they will definitely help you to learn this language.
5. HSK, Chinese official exams only held twice in Hong Kong every year
HSK, which is the Han Yu Shui Ping Kao Shi is held in Hong Kong university and Chinese university of Hong Kong, but unfortunately it is only held twice a week, in May and December, most of the time. The HSK is a good way to have some motivations of learning Mandarin, it has six levels, from level 1 to 6, level 1 is for Beginners, and Level 6 is the most advanced level Mandarin exam for foreigners. To get to a good Mandarin level, I would suggest a person take at least level 4 in order to have better understanding and communication level to Chinese people if you are planning to work or travel to Mainland China.
6. Hard to organize a group Mandarin class in Hong Kong.
Forming a group class for Mandarin lesson can be daunting, everyone has their schedule, level or even expectation; therefore, we also find it difficult to put several students in a group and make the class smoothly run. Because each student has their own expectation, some students end up with upset feeling since they feel they don’t learn as expected! It is hard for a Mandarin tutor to satisfy all students, therefore, we don’t really suggest students to take group class, instead, private Mandarin lesson is a good way to learn Mandarin since it can be tailor made and more flexible, we found students who take 1 to 1 Mandarin lessons learn at least twice faster than group classes.
7. Life in Hong Kong is so busy
Yes, life is very busy in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a very modern city where business is developing here very quickly, some local Cantonese people don’t even have enough time for food during lunch hours, also, some work over time until 9 to 10pm, and it is difficult for them to learn Mandarin after working or even weekend when they want more rest. Even if they have the time to come to your class, they feel very tired! It is very frustrating to see a student who has no time to study or review at home because they are too busy working or with family matters. Sometime, our Mandarin tutor give them homework, they can never find a time to do it!
8. Hong Kong people speak English very well
Hong Kong used to be the British colonial, therefore English language is very popular here in Hong Kong, Hong Kong local people speak fairly good English compare to mainland China, therefore, living in Hong Kong, you don’t really NEED Mandarin or Cantonese language, you can get around Hong Kong easily with only English, therefore, here, the local people tend to speak only English when they see a foreigner speaking to them, it will make learning Mandarin harder if English is so popular used between friends and colleagues.
So we can see that there are actually many difficulties in learning Mandarin in Hong Kong, such as language environment, pace of life, etc., but I think that as the relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong gets closer, the demand and opportunities for learning Mandarin will greatly improved, this situation will definitely be improved.