Learning a foreign language can be one of the most rewarding achievements in life. With a new language, you can experience different cultures and connect with people all over the world.
Moreover, language learning opens up exciting travel and employment opportunities and can help you make new friends or even find love. But why choose to learn Chinese in Hong Kong?
If you’ve ever considered learning another language, Chinese could be one of the most important and useful languages of all. Chinese is the second most spoken language in the world, right behind English.
With well over a billion Chinese speakers worldwide and China emerging as a global powerhouse, Chinese sits at the top of the list of most important languages to learn in 2022, especially for English speakers.
Hong Kong is an ultra modern metropolis uniquely entwined with ancient tradition. It is the perfect blend of Eastern and Western influences. It’s geolocation, large expat community and and even its close historical ties to the West make it the perfect place for language study abroad.
What’s The Best Way to Learn a New Language?
The best way to learn a new language is by immersing yourself in a community where the language is spoken. This will give you plenty of opportunity to practice with native speakers every day.
Hong Kong is home to some of the best universities in Asia and takes tremendous pride in their educational success. Aside from their educational resources, Hong Kong is an incredibly exciting place to study and live as an expat.
Advantages of Studying Chinese in Hong Kong
The Internet has become a global means of communication in our day-to-day lives. It has revolutionised many different fields – language learning included.
Indeed, in today’s digital world, it is possible to study Chinese from virtually anywhere in the world by taking courses online.
But that said, learning Chinese online is certainly no match for the thrill of packing your bags and jetting off to an exotic Chinese city like Hong Kong with a view to immersing yourself in an Intensive Chinese language course.
Chinese Language Immersion in Hong Kong
The language immersion you’ll experience by living amongst native speakers will be invaluable. In Hong Kong, you can take what you’ve learned in class and immediately practice at a local mall, restaurant, or with friends.
You’ll be able to practise your language skills in real life situations whilst learning to understand the nuances of meeting and interacting with Chinese people. You’ll have constant exposure to the language, picking up more than you would in a country that doesn’t use the language.
Learning Chinese in Hong Kong will also give you ample opportunity to explore this fascinating region of the world.
Hong Kong has one of the most modern, efficient and easily accessible transport systems globally, so Hong Kong is your gateway to mainland China as well as other fascinating countries throughout South East Asia.
You’ll be able to take the occasional break from your formal Chinese language studies in Hong Kong and head off to a neighbouring Chinese speaking region. This will give you plenty more Chinese conversational practise.
So, while it is of course possible to study Chinese in, for example, western countries such as Australia, the US or the UK, you simply will not progress as quickly as someone who studies in Hong Kong.
If you’re serious about learning the Chinese language and using it in real life situations, one the best routes is by taking the trip of a lifetime and studying abroad in Hong Kong.
Is it Best to Learn Mandarin or Cantonese in Hong Kong?
When it comes to learning Chinese, you’ll have to decide between learning Cantonese or Mandarin. You might even decide, as many others do, to study both! The right choice depends on your personal goals and lifestyle.
Cantonese is the dominant language in Hong Kong while Mandarin is the dominant language of mainland China. Outside of Hong Kong, Cantonese is spoken in Macau and most of southern China.
Therefore, if you plan on living, working, or studying in mainland China, Mandarin would be an advantageous language to study. If on the other hand you see yourself spending more time in Hong Kong or southern China, Cantonese may be the best choice for you.
The Pros & Cons of Learning Cantonese in Hong Kong?
If you’re leaning towards learning Cantonese, here are some pros and cons to consider:
Your day to day life in Hong Kong will be much more straightforward if you’re able to speak Cantonese fluently. Or even just speaking basic Cantonese will make your life much easier.
Local Hong Kongers Speak Cantonese
A major pro is that around 96% of people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese as their native language. This means you will have ample opportunities to practice using the language with native speakers. Once you get a grasp on the language, you’ll start to fit right in with the community.
While English is an official language in Hong Kong, not everyone speaks it as well as they speak Cantonese. Building relationships with locals for work or business and simply living everyday life will be much easier when you learn Cantonese Chinese.
You’ll also see most traffic signs and restaurant menus in Cantonese, giving you tons of input to help your learning process.
One slight drawback, however, is that most Mandarin speakers don’t typically understand Cantonese. As a result, Cantonese might be of little help if you find yourself in an area where Mandarin is the more predominant language,
When compared to Mandarin, Cantonese is also far less commonly spoken around the world. However, if you plan on spending a lot of time in Hong Kong and southern China, you’ll find being able to speak Cantonese will be a huge advantage. Indeed, taking a Cantonese Chinese Course in Hong Kong will serve you well.
The Pros & Cons of Learning Mandarin in Hong Kong?
There are also advantages and disadvantages when it comes to learning Mandarin. The biggest advantage is that Mandarin is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world as already mentioned.
Having the ability to speak Mandarin will potentially open many doors for employment and educational opportunities. As the corporate world becomes more globally connected, speaking Mandarin will set you apart from the competition. It will possibly help you land jobs in international business.
Another pro of learning Mandarin in Hong Kong is that most native Cantonese speakers can understand a good deal of Mandarin. So even if you’re living amongst Cantonese speakers, you’ll be able to do some communicating in Mandarin.
Conversely, native Mandarin speakers are less likely to understand as much Cantonese. The degree to which a mainland Mandarin Chinese speaker understands Cantonese will often depend on how geographically close they live (or were raised) to a largely Cantonese speaking province.
Something else to consider is that Mandarin, like Cantonese, is a tonal language. If you’re a native speaker of English, or any language that isn’t typically characterised as a tonal language, this could be a challenge for you.
However, as with most things in life, with practice and a determined mindset you’ll overcome any challenges! Besides, getting to grips with the various tones often turns out easier than people first imagine.
Moreover, living in Hong Kong while you study Mandarin or Cantonese will give you plenty of opportunities to practice your tones. Read more on Chinese tones here:
Can you live in Hong Kong if you don’t speak Chinese?
It can be intimidating to relocate to a country when you don’t know the language. But you’re not going to let this hold you back, are you?
You can absolutely live in Hong Kong if you don’t speak any Chinese. English is one of the official languages in Hong Kong and nearly half of the population speaks English to some degree.
This is part of what makes Hong Kong the best place to learn Chinese. You can move to Hong Kong as a complete beginner and get around just fine. Many people in Hong Kong are happy to practice speaking English with native speakers. So, until you’ve learned to do so in Chinese, don’t worry if you need to ask for directions or order a meal in English – ‘most’ locals will be happy to oblige.
Do you need to speak Chinese to work in Hong Kong?
Depending on the company, you may or may not be required to speak Chinese to work in Hong Kong. English and Chinese are the two official languages, and many companies expect their employees to speak both.
That said, you can definitely find companies that will hire you as a speaker of just one of the languages. Of course, the ability to speak both English and Chinese will be a huge advantage to you.
Here’s a more in depth look at living and working in Hong Kong.
The Bottom Line
So why should you learn Chinese in Hong Kong? Because it makes so much sense! Hong Kong is rich in culture, language, and history. It is perfectly balanced between modern technology and traditional nature. Oh, and the choice of restaurants will astound you!
With a large expat community, you can easily move to Hong Kong and immediately make friends with people from diverse backgrounds.
If learning Chinese is one of your unfulfilled life goals, then don’t waste another day: consider the many advantages of immersing yourself in Hong Kong’s rich culture and learning Cantonese or Mandarin right here in this unique world city!