Over 1 billion people worldwide speak Chinese as their native or second language, and that number is growing rapidly. Also growing is selection of language courses available on Duolingo.
On Wednesday, November 16, the language learning platform added Mandarin Chinese as its 27th course offering, which is available now on the Duolingo app for iOS and Android. In addition to its recently added Japanese course, Duolingo claims that Chinese has been one of its most requested languages.
While there are a number of different Chinese dialects, Duolingo’s course will only focus on Modern Standard Mandarin, the official language of the People’s Republic of China (China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan). It’s also one of the official languages of Singapore and Myanmar.
Since Chinese is an extremely difficult language to master, Duolingo’s course does not aim to make its students fluent. Like its other courses, the Mandarin course teaches basic phrases and slang terms used by Mandarin speakers. The course specifically focuses on learning words and words and phrases for food, culture and travel, festivals, and internet slang, as well as business and financial transactions. All in all, the course covers all of the vocabulary and grammar points to successfully complete levels 1 through 3 of the official Chinese proficiency test.
In addition to speaking the language, Duolingo’s course will focus on Chinese characters as well. The Chinese writing system is the world’s oldest, and is vastly different than the English alphabet. Initially users will learn about 1,000 of the most commonly used simplified Chinese characters, though Duolingo does plan to add traditional Chinese characters to the lessons in the future. Hanyu Pinyin, the standard romanization system, is also covered in the course.
Like its other courses, Duolingo relied on extensive research to create its newest offering. Duolingo developed the course curriculum using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages as a point of reference. CEFR provides a step-by-step framework for language learning and makes sure that learners are proficient in certain basic areas before beginning more complex materials.
Duolingo offers free language courses online as well as through apps for iOS and Android.