Our interactive short courses in Chinese language and cultures are designed to fit around you. With access to expert tutors, learner discussion forums, quizzes and digital badges, these short courses provide the perfect balance of high quality learning and tutor support with flexible self-study to schedule around other priorities.
Enrol anytime and study at a pace to suit you.
OpenLearn is the home of free learning at The Open University. Full of free learning resources from short animated videos, taster courses, articles and interactive quizzes. Come and take a look at our growing range of learning resources relating to Chinese language and cultures.
Enrol anytime on one of our supported and flexible Chinese language short courses with interactive learning activities, course forum, embedded audio exercises and access to a learning support adviser. Upon completion, you will also receive a digital badge to showcase your learning.
This 16-unit short online course is designed for absolute beginners. Through 3–4 study hours per unit, you’ll learn the essentials of reading, writing, speaking and listening in Mandarin Chinese through a variety of online interactive activities.
If you have already learnt some basic Chinese yourself or completed our Beginners Chinese 1, and wish to continue, why not sign up for Beginners Chinese 2? Through 3–4 study hours per unit for 16 units, you’ll consolidate and expand your skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening through a variety of interactive online activities.
Similar to Beginners 1 and Beginners 2 Chinese, this is a 16-unit online course to help you consolidate and further the skills needed to communicate effectively in Chinese in a range of everyday contexts through a variety of interactive online listening, speaking, reading and writing activities.
Knowledge of Chinese etiquette has become invaluable as business dealings with China increase. But what is also crucial is an awareness of the much broader context of Chinese culture. Core cultural values and beliefs exist throughout the Chinese community, including business relationships. Understanding them can be essential to the success of a business meeting or negotiation. In this short course you'll discover a broad overview of Chinese culture by completing 4 units, with each unit expected to take 8–9 hours to study. Over a total of 36 hours, you'll explore topics including language, building trust, hierarchical society and gift-giving. It will also identify the potential challenges these present. You'll even learn some useful expressions in Mandarin Chinese and simplified characters along the way.
This course builds on previous basic knowledge of Chinese that you might have gained from our Beginners Chinese short courses or your learning elsewhere. You'll learn how to effectively communicate in a wide range of situations using a variety of language structures, including expressions of time, measurements, talking about the past, present and future, giving advice, describing health issues, visiting the doctor and handling money. Throughout the course, you will improve your ability to understand spoken and written Chinese and to communicate your own information and ideas. You will acquire a knowledge of the basic structures of Chinese, along with key vocabulary and sentence patterns. By the end, you’ll be able to communicate with speakers of Chinese in a limited range of predictable and simple contexts relating to everyday situations. You’ll understand and use simple Chinese grammatical structures (for example, questions and statements), how to use polite forms of address and greetings, common terms for everyday objects and events as well as recognising basic Chinese phrases in formal and informal styles.
Elementary Chinese 2 will build on your language development, including how to talk about feelings and opinions as well as form superlatives such as ‘most’. You'll learn how to effectively communicate in a wide range of situations using a variety of language structures. Topics include talking about distance and transport, daily activities, describing feelings, expression opinions and managing invitations. You will continue learning to write in Pinyin and/or character forms of frequently used expressions relevant to the topics covered.
The final short course in the Elementary series builds on your language development further including expressing a formal apology and using conditional sentences. In this course, you'll learn how to effectively communicate in a wide range of situations using a variety of language structures, including talking about borrowing and lending, discussing history, travel, online shopping, moving house and how to apologise.
Available on OpenLearn, The Open University’s free online learning platform, you can sample our 'Getting-started' series, which are extracts from our short courses in Chinese language and culture. Each free taster course consists of approximately eight hours of study and will help give you a feel for further study. All you need to do is to register a free account with OpenLearn.
If you are an absolute beginner, this taster course is for you. Through about 8 study hours you’ll learn some Pinyin spelling conventions, essential greetings, how to respond to greetings, count from 0-99, say thank you and goodbye through a variety of online interactive activities.
This is the follow-up to the short course Beginners Chinese 1, or your own equivalent knowledge of the language. It will give you more essentials of reading, writing, speaking, and listening through a variety of online activities. Through about 8 study hours, you will learn to talk about some daily activities such as watching TV and learning Chinese, using time expressions, and more complex questions.
This is the follow-up to the short course Beginners Chinese 2, or your own equivalent knowledge of the language. It will help you consolidate your language skills and provide you with a variety of vocabulary and expressions to improve your Chinese in everyday situations. It will give you more essentials of reading, writing, speaking, and listening through a variety of online activities. Through about 8 study hours, you will learn to describe objects and people, including one's appearance and state, be able to indicate a change of state, form comparative sentences, and recognise some character head components as well as four-character idioms.
This OpenLearn taster course is an extract from Chinese Business Culture Essentials short course. Through about 8 study hours, you will understand better the concept of culture, confidently discuss the issue of cultural norms and misunderstandings caused by stereotypes of a particular culture, recognise the key indicators of intercultural competence, understand the importance of family and how that translates in business settings and appreciate the importance of speaking a little Chinese.
Please see below for our specialist distance-learning accredited courses available at The Open University. Please review the detailed course pages for further information and entry requirements
This qualification is an exciting opportunity to develop your skills as a translator, equipping you to work in the fast-growing Translation Services industry. Combining English and Mandarin Chinese (or any other language on offer), you will experiment with different genres through practical, inspiring translation activities and hone your practice through peer review. You will gain hands-on experience of using tools necessary to operate in this rapidly-evolving area (e.g. audio-visual translation or cloud-based translation tools).
This 15-credit CPD module develops your confidence to speak and understand simple Mandarin Chinese in everyday contexts and is designed especially for Primary school teachers. You’ll explore life in Mandarin-speaking countries and communities and discover current thinking in the theory and practice of teaching primary languages. Throughout the module, you’ll learn the key concepts for embedding a new language in your classroom routine.