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Hong Kong Information > Orientation
   Also see in Services: Language Training

The three, official languages of Hong Kong Ė Cantonese, Mandarin and English - are taught in local schools although the standard of English is not particularly high.

Cantonese is the most widely spoken language, although, since the handover, Mandarin lessons have become a compulsory part of the education system. It is unlikely you will encounter any serious communication problems in Hong Kong, even if you donít speak Cantonese, with many Chinese speaking fluent English or at least having a rudimentary understanding of the language. If you speak Mandarin but not Cantonese, a large proportion of the population will be able to understand and respond to you.

With nine basic tones, Cantonese is a difficult language to learn compared with Mandarin, which has four tones, but is well worth the time, effort and money. The response you will receive, even with just a smattering, will be tremendous; it is the fact that you have made an effort to communicate with them in their own language that impresses the Chinese, and they will be that much more helpful. There are some excellent private tutors available, but to get you started:

How are you ?  Nei ho ma ?
Good Morning  Jo sahn 
Good Night  Jo Tau
Thank you (for a service)  M'goy
Thank you (for a gift)  Dohjeh 
Sorry/ Excuse Me  Deui-m-jeu 
Please (when trying to get someone's attention)  M'goy
Yes  Hai 
No  M'hai
Today  Gum yat
Tomorrow  Ting yat
Yesterday  Cum yat 
Where  Hai been do ?
When  Gai See ? 
A little more  Doh dee
A little less Siu dee
How Much ? Gaidoh cheen ah? 
Too Expensive  Ho gwai
Turn left Juhn joh
Turn right  Juhn yow 
Go Straight  Jick hoi 
Here, please Lido, m'goy
Central  Jong Wan 
The Peak  San Deng
Repulse Bay  Chin Soi Wan 
Happy Valley  Pau Ma Dei 
Star Ferry Pier  Ting Sing Ma Tau 

Language Courses and Tutors

Language tutors are easy to find; they usually advertise on supermarket and club notice boards and in the dollar saver.  Ask around among colleagues and friends as they may have suggestions, or watch for advertisements in the South China Morning Post on Sunday and the weekly Hong Kong Magazine.

Alternatively enroll at one of the below for traditional classes: 

Beijing Language Institute 
Room 1101
Crocodile House 1
50 Connaught Road
Hong Kong

Tel: 2815 8772

Berlitz Language Centre
Suite 708
One Pacific Place
88 Queensway
Hong Kong

Tel: 2826 9223
Fax: 2525 9757

China Business Language Institute
6/F, Matheson Centre
3 Matheson Street
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Tel: 2295 6018

The University of Hong Kong
Department of Chinese
Academic Services Enquiry Office
Upper Ground Floor
Knowles Building
The University of Hong Kong
Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
Tel: 2859 2433
Fax: 2540 1405

HK Language Learning Centre
Unit 1602-3, 16/F
Emperor Group Centre
288 Hennessy Road
Hong Kong

Tel: 2572 6488
Enquiry Hotline: 2385 5331
Fax: 2385 5571
Note: Yau Ma Tei MTR, Exit C

Mach Mandarin
22/F, Hang Lung Centre
2 Paterson Street
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Tel: 2880 7861 / 2890 1745
Fax: 2890 5681

Talking Mandarin
8/F, Full View Building
140-142 Des Voeux Road
Hong Kong
Tel: 2139 3226
Fax: 2139 3227

Times Well
11G, 11/F
Causeway Tower
16-22 Causeway Road
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Tel: 2203 4389 / 9736 1150
Fax: 2203 4392

For Online Chinese courses, click here.



Last Updated: 12 November, 2004


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