Should I learn Mandarin or Cantonese?

Posted by Daisy Jiang on Feb 3, 2016

learn mandarin or cantonese

Learn Mandarin or learn Cantonese? It's really hard to choose. Today, let's compare these two different languages, it will help you make the correct choice.

The Importance of Mandarin and Cantonese


China is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-language countries, there are 56 ethnic groups, a total of over 80 languages, about 30 languages. Mandarin is our official language. It takes an important part in China even in the world. It's a language most used in the world and also one of the six official working languages of the United Nations. Mandarin is the common language of the Han nationality. Except the Han nationality, many minorities speak also Mandarin. Recent years, with frequent international exchange, more and more Chinese go out of China and go abroad. At the same time, they bring Mandarin to every corner of the world.


In fact, Cantonese is a dialect which is used generally in south China, especially in province Guangdong and Hong Kong. It's familiar with foreigners because Guangdong and Hong Kong are two important places of foreigner trade. In the commercial foreigner trade, some foreigners know about Cantonese even can speak some words of Cantonese. But in recent years, more and more people in Guangdong and Hong Kong learn Mandarin and you can use speak Mandarin in Cantonese region because people can understand you but conversely, speak Cantonese in another region of China is impossible.

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Numbers of people who speak Mandarin and Cantonese

There are about 66 million Cantonese speakers. While as the mandarin, it is spoken by about 1 billion people worldwide. Of all languages, Mandarin is the most widely-spoken.

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Level of difficulty

For most foreigners, the tone of Chinese is the most difficult. If you have difficulty in tons, I suggest you to learn Mandarin because in Mandarin, there are only 4 tones, while in Cantonese, there're total 9 tones.

What's more, as the official language of China, Mandarin takes the most important part. So you can find the documents (books, video) of Mandarin without any difficulties. But if you want to learn Cantonese, it seems not so easy. The document, not only the books, but also the video and other documents to learn Cantonese is far less than that of Mandarin. To attend lessons? Well, the training agency is also less than that of Cantonese. What's more, it's more expensive.

In considering the importance, the number of Mandarin-speaking people and the difficulty of learning, learning Chinese mandarin is more recommendable. But if you are interested in Cantonese and you live in a Cantonese speaking region, learning Cantonese is also a good way to narrow the distance with the natives.

About The Author

Daisy Jiang

Daisy has a unique ability to take content from the textbook and bring it to life in class. Her years of teaching experience give her an excellent ability to adapt to student of diverse backgrounds.

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