When you travel to a faraway, fascinating land, you want to make the most of the experience. China, in particular, is a country both so rich in culture and history and so different from Western nations that engagement with the Chinese language opens up vast new possibilities for your journey—plus, speaking Chinese is just plain fun.

yes - 180 x 120

Homework on vacation? YES.”
Ok, we know this isn’t for everyone,
but learning Chinese is truly rewarding.

As a serious student of Mandarin and a frequent traveler to China, I’ve always been frustrated by the lack of tools available to properly pursue this kind of immersive travel experience. On all the trips I’ve taken there, I’ve wished that I had detailed resources to tell me the Chinese names of the places on my itinerary, along with related historical events and figures; provide me with relevant vocabulary to enrich my conversations during the trip; and, most uniquely, make it convenient for me to study this information so that I could remember it and really put it to use. While a lot of websites and books provide detailed information about China and its tourist destinations, I haven’t seen anything ready-made to enhance a specific tour experience that is also presented in a convenient (and easily portable) format for learning.

Now China International Travel CA is making materials like this available to you.

Whether you’re a tourist simply seeking the correct pronunciations of names on your itinerary or a student of the language who wants to be able to converse with the people you encounter on your tour, these learning resources will help you achieve your goal:

In the future, we will be adding further information and features to the existing pages, as well as resources for more itineraries and more of the destinations featured on our tours.

How to use these resources: Given that our clients and visitors to this website will have widely varying goals for their study of Chinese, we have put together a brief guide for three basic levels of ambition.

Study Plan A: The Curious Tourist

If you just want to learn a little Chinese to enhance your trip, consider these suggested steps:

  1. Learn how to read and pronounce Hanyu Pinyin*: Since learning how to read and write Chinese characters is a very time-consuming process, don’t worry about that if your time is limited. Stick with pinyin, which will enable you to engage in some spoken communication and read many signs and names written in pinyin. Our Resources for Learning Pinyin section will help you understand how to pronounce Mandarin words.

  2. Consult phrase guides for travelers: See the “pocket guides” (books and downloadable documents), which include useful phrases and everyday vocabulary, in our Basic Resources for Travelers section.

  3. Read our Language and Culture Learning Resources pages: Learn about the destinations featured on your tour, including their Chinese names and related Chinese terms. If you can’t read pinyin, simply click the pinyin pronunciation for each name or expression to hear what it sounds like.

  4. Use the vocabulary lists on our Quizlet page: Each page and section of our Chinese Language Resources has links to individual lists. You can also import our lists (which have pinyin-only versions) into your Quizlet account or Quizlet-compatible app and simply delete any terms you’re not interested in reviewing. If you’d like, create your own lists with additional words and expressions you want to memorize. If you can’t read pinyin, Quizlet and some Quizlet-compatible apps (such as Quizlet’s own app and Flashcards++) have audio pronunciation features.

  5. Use an electronic dictionary to facilitate communication and study: The Pleco Chinese Dictionary, available for both Apple and Android mobile devices, is a thorough, well-designed, and free dictionary that allows you to make flashcards out of words that you look up. If you can’t read pinyin, you can purchase an audio pronunciation add-on for the Pleco dictionary; you might also try the $4.99 Qingwen dictionary, which has audio pronunciations as a standard feature.

* Even if you don’t have the time or inclination to learn how to read pinyin, you can still follow steps 3-5 above since they all involve audio pronunciation options.

Study Plan B: The Novice or Casual Student

If you already have some experience with and understanding of the language, but you are either a beginner or just a casual student, consider these suggestions:

  1. Make sure you have a solid understanding of pinyin.  Review or practice with the resources listed here.

  2. Give yourself a good foundation in understanding written Chinese.  If you are learning how to read and write characters, consider using the resources in our Resources for Learning Chinese Characters section to help in memorizing individual characters and basic vocabulary. Also check out the sections on Chinese-English dictionaries and vocabulary building tools.

  3. Choose a systematic curriculum to follow.  If you are not taking a Chinese course in school, consider using one of the courses introduced in our Courses of Study for Students of Chinese section.

  4. Read our Language and Culture Learning Resources pages: Before (or during) your trip, learn about the destinations featured on the tour, including their Chinese names and related Chinese terms. Use our Quizlet lists and/or a compatible mobile app to facilitate retention of this information.

Study Plan C: The Budding Scholar

If you’re a serious, experienced student with an intermediate or higher level of proficiency, you should be able to skip some of the above steps and proceed directly to using our lists. Consider these suggestions:

  1. Explore our Chinese Language Resources page: With the wealth of information we’ve provided, you’re sure to find helpful new tools and materials with which to supplement your study. The Chinese Vocabulary Building Resources and Resources for Intermediate and Advanced Students sections should be particularly helpful.

  2. Practice, practice, practice: Make sure you avail yourself of every opportunity to actually put your knowledge to use. Through online communities like those at Livemocha, ChinesePod, and Chinese-forums.com, you can engage in discussions with people online and find language partners to practice with.

  3. Read our Language and Culture Learning Resources pages: Learn more about the destinations featured on your tour so that you can discuss them in detail during the trip. Use our Quizlet lists and/or a compatible mobile app to facilitate retention of this information.

If you have any questions about these Chinese language resources or about our tours, please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or e-mail. Happy studying!

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