Why learn Chinese?

China has been the fastest-growing major economy in the world over the past twenty-five years and is predicted to be the largest economy in the world in the next ten years. China is becoming Australia's largest trading partner and the Australia-China relationship is becoming one of Australia's most important and high-profile relationships.

The national language of China is Putonghua or Mandarin. Today, Mandarin is established as the world's largest language in terms of native speakers. Mandarin is the most important language in the Asia-Pacific region and is therefore a language that is particularly important to Australia. It is an official language in the United Nations and is also widely used in international trade.

Career Prospects

At present, university graduates with Chinese language skills are in great demand not only in Australia but also overseas. Graduates with Chinese are sought in exporting and importing businesses, international banking, tourism, teaching, multicultural co-operations and in the public service in areas such as foreign affairs, defence, trade and immigration.

Read more about new government funding for Chinese studies at the Australian National University

The Chinese Language Program

Chinese is taught in the China Centre, in the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University. Our language program is very flexible. We cater to a variety of learners with different needs and different language proficiency levels. We have something for everyone.

  • If you are a total beginner you can start your Chinese studies by doing our basic spoken and written Chinese courses.
  • If you already know Chinese and want to develop the language further, you can start at a more advanced level.
  • If you are interested in learning some Chinese, you can study Chinese as an elective and do either the basic spoken or basic written Chinese units.
  • If you want to study Chinese in depth, you can do our language major and study Chinese for three years, learning all four language skills - speaking, listening, reading and writing.
  • If you want to continue your Chinese studies beyond the language major, we offer a variety of advanced Chinese courses.
  • If you want to live in China and immerse yourself in the language and culture, you can do so through our Year in China Program.

Related resources

Association for Learning Mandarin in Australia (ALMA) is a Canberra-based non-profit community organisation which promotes the learning and use of Mandarin Chinese and a greater understanding of Chinese culture and heritage in Australian Society. ALMA provides networking opportunities for those wishing to explore the educational, cultural and/or personal benefits of learning Mandarin. Visit the new ALMA website

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster