Certificate in Chinese Language courses for foreign students

B. Certificate in Chinese Language courses for foreign students

The Certificate Course in Chinese Language may be taken in the Putonghua stream or the Cantonese stream.  The courses are intended for those whose mother tongue is not Chinese.  They are taught by experienced teachers, who are native speakers of Chinese, and provide balanced training in listening, speaking, reading and writing in Chinese.  There are l5 hours per week of instruction in classes with a limited number of students.

Enquiry email: amyho.clc@hku.hk


The curriculum for the Certificate in Chinese Language extends over two years comprised of three terms each year. The First Examination is held at the end of the first year and the Certificate Examination is held at the end of the curriculum.

The curriculum for the Certificate in Chinese Language consists of the following:

Putonghua Stream

Year One

1. Listening Comprehension I

Students are required to listen to simple dialogues in various situations to strengthen their ability to follow conversations on different topics carried out by native speakers.  The material used to develop listening skills has been varied and interesting.  Core course materials have been supplemented to connect with the learners’ interests.

2. Spoken Chinese

Through student-centered activities, including role play, working in pairs, and communication exercises, the course focuses on pronunciation, tones, intonation and sentence patterns to enable students to engage in situational conversations with confidence.  Students are also introduced to Pinyin as a written support for oral communication in preparation for the transition to Chinese characters.

3. Reading and Writing

Students learn basic modern Chinese grammar, read and write about 1000 Chinese characters and some proverbs.  Characters have been presented and discussed across all sessions, provides detailed information about Chinese characters, including common words containing the characters, and stroke order.  Our teacher will translate the unfamiliar grammatical terms to clarify the concepts and relate them to English language equivalents.

4. Composition I

Compositions start off at about 100 characters and gradually increase to 400 characters.  Students are encouraged and guided to write diary-style reports.  The errors generated here will be used to diagnose weaknesses focused on in later sessions, to facilitate learning and memorization.

Year Two

1. Listening Comprehension II

The objective of this course is to enhance each student’s listening ability.  By the end of the course, students will be able to understand conversations at normal speed carried out by native speakers.  The materials range from everyday subjects to Chinese history and economics.

2. Topical Discussions

There are more focuses on pronouncing the words correctly and being able to speak and understand a wide range of vocabulary and sentences.  Students are encouraged to develop communicative confidence with the help of role plays related to our daily life environments.  Our teacher provides a good grounding in the pronunciation, using drilling effectively. Students deliver short speeches on special topics in class.

3. Selected Reader

Vocabulary building is one of the main tasks in this course.  In addition to basic sentence structures, students will learn more than 700 words, about 180 phrases, up to 100 special nouns, 40 proverbs, synonyms and antonyms.  It is designed to provide a best practice course objective with efficient and effective teaching strategy.

4. Newspaper Readings

It equips students with the basic skills for reading Chinese news articles and enhances their reading comprehension.  It also aimed at an expeditious enlargement of comprehension of journalistic phrases and wordings, with the wide-ranging news items that are grounded in reality, and propitious to students’ comprehension of Chinese national conditions and culture.

5.  Composition II

It is designed to strengthen the student’s grasp of various styles of writing including narrative, argumentative.  It provides guidance training in writing well-structured essays as well as writing on practical subjects.  Students are guided in writing 600-character essays.

Student Voices (Putonghua Stream)

  • “The experience has been great so far. All the teachers are very helpful. Lessons are very fun. You may think that 3 hours a day is a lot but it really goes by quickly. You have a lot of activities and your classmates are very fun engaged with. Classes are very well planned. We can all learn very efficiently. I really recommend anyone who is around the area to take this course. It really has been eye-opening.”
  • “I love studying Chinese at HKU because we have three different classes. We have listening, speaking and grammar classes. It was most fun to speak because you can use it in the real world. But we realize that the grammar and listening part is also very important. Otherwise you can’t hear what people are saying and you can’t read signs around you. Overall I find that the class is very useful. I really enjoyed it.
  • Last weekend my classmates and I have a trip to Hangzhou. Nobody really spoke English. We had to listen to what they were saying and we have been able to speak properly. When we went to restaurants, the menu was in Chinese and we were able to read it. It was really useful to have this experience in class and you are able to apply it in China.”
  • “My teacher has a friendly and encouraging manner and tries out new methods to make sessions active and interesting for learners.  She responds to the different learning needs of individuals in group situations, but avoids overloading the single learner in ‘one to one’ sessions.”
  • “The gradual improvement of my speaking skills strengthened my confidence and today I can find my way alone in China and have conversations on basic topics.”
  • “Apart from merely teaching the language, my teacher adopts interactive teaching methods such as organizing a variety of cultural fields which makes studying Chinese much easier and pleasant.  She teaches us with patience and helps me to pass the HSK5.”
  • “There is a lot of support from the teachers and staff.  The teachers are professional, accommodating and dynamic.  They are really professional and experienced.”
  • “I have been learning here since 2015.  As a complete beginner, I was very nervous but I found my teachers patient and knowledgeable.  They always encouraged me to speak Putonghua in the class.  It is easier that way to remember and to repeat phrases and words.”
  • “I would like to be able to communicate directly with my business partners.  I am happy that my teacher does not only follow the book but that he teaches me also extra words.”
  • “It has been some really fun months learning the most difficult languages in the world with long history and rich culture.  Native and experienced teachers are supportive and willing to spend extra effort to cater for students’ needs.  The course content and outdoor activities certainly were the highlight, both challenging and enjoyable!  Besides, I’ve met new friends from different parts of the world.  The whole experience was great!”
  • “This certificate provides the students with extensive vocabulary, comprehensive grammar and hints of the Chinese culture.  Topics are varied and interesting.”

Cantonese Stream

Year One

1. Listening Comprehension I

In this course, drills on sounds and tones as well as simple situational dialogues will help students examine the problems that foreign learners commonly have in understanding Cantonese and expand their range of expressions.

2. Spoken Cantonese

This course aims at enhancing the student’s ability to cope with conversations in everyday situations.  The main activities include accurate pronunciation and tones, the practice of sentence patterns and drills in the Jyutping system.

3. Written Chinese I

Students learn basic sentence patterns and grammar in modern standard Chinese.  About 1,000 commonly-used Chinese characters are introduced.  Students are taught how to use Chinese dictionaries and online applications for learning Chinese characters.

4. Composition I

This course will be offered in the third term.  It helps students develop their ability to write simple paragraphs before moving on to 200-character essays.

Year Two

1. Listening Comprehension II

This course helps students understand different situational conversations, weather reports, news, advertisements and announcements from radio and television.

2. Topical Discussions

This course gives students further practice in sentence patterns and natural expressions, storytelling, and enhances their communication skills.  Students engage in discussions on special topics ranging from social issues to beliefs and practices in Chinese culture.  Students are required to prepare and deliver short speeches in class on special topics.

3. Written Chinese II

This course helps students enrich their vocabulary through an intensive study of modern written texts and to master sentence structure and grammar of Chinese.

4. Newspaper Readings

This course equips students with the basic skills for reading local Chinese newspaper articles and enhances their reading comprehension.  Specialized terms for various news topics are introduced.

5. Composition II

This course provides training in writing well-structured essays and creative pieces as well as writing on practical subjects.  Students are guided in writing 400-character essays.

Student Voices (Cantonese Stream)

  • “As a native English speaker who never learned a new language, I had to start from square one with one of the most difficult languages in the world. I found the course to be extremely challenging with both tones and sentence structures. However, the program provides support of caring instructors that take the time to explain new concepts and use multiple teaching methods to address concerns of students with multiple ages and learning styles.
  • I feel I am successfully progressing and improving every day at listening, speaking, and writing Cantonese. I recommend this course to students who are looking for a challenging curriculum that also provides a glimpse into the local culture and allows you to use your new skills from day one!”
  • “The advantage of studying Cantonese at HKU is that it provides a state of the art modern environment. In addition, much of the academic success of these classes has been due to the friendly but serious and motivated manner in which both students and teachers have approached the curriculum.”
  • “This year’s class is a small group which has an excellent rapport with its teachers. We are privileged to have a staff to student ratio of almost 1:1. Our tutors go about their job in an enthusiastic dedicated of professional manner, providing a friendly & motivating environment for the learning of Cantonese by the students in their care. Much of the past success of the students attending classes in the Certificate in Chinese Language (Cantonese stream) has been due to the manner in which the course has been run. Not only are the tutors for this course experienced, skilled & knowledgeable about their subject but they also make learning fun. A variety of teaching methods are employed. The course in Cantonese is well structured, it teaches the students to read, write & speak the language and how the language has evolved. It also provides an insight into Hong Kong culture. The teaching plan is well coordinated throughout the learning period. The English meaning of Chinese characters is taught in parallel with the romanisation of the spoken word. The pace of teaching the class is adjusted to the students’ needs and each individual student is included in the class discussions. Facilities for teaching a “foreign” language are state of the art and I fully recommend HKU to anyone wishing to learn Cantonese.”
  • “Apart from the comprehensive curriculum, the passionate and dedicated teachers really make the program one-of-a-kind. I had fun while learning about Hong Kong culture and the complex language of its people. My Cantonese and written traditional Chinese have improved by leaps and bounds within a very short period of time, thanks to the wonderful teachers and rich curriculum.”
  • “No matter if you are a Cantonese rookie or an advanced speaker, this certificate course meets your level and helps to develop your individual skills in writing, reading and speaking Cantonese.  It’s so much fun to be able to gradually decode the city by reading characters and communicate with locals.  This allows me to better understand Cantonese culture, participate in local events and be more and more an active part of this city.”
  • “The Cantonese course at HKU is very well structured so that you develop your speaking, listening and writing skills.  Since starting the course, I have found myself better able to communicate in every day life with the local community.  I am also really enjoying being able to recognize characters when wandering around town.  Well worth taking the course so long as you are prepared to work diligently.”
  • “The teachers are very encouraging, kind and patient.  They take their time out to explain until you have understood everything, even if that means waiting a few hours before or after class.  Periodic evaluations help us analyze how much we have learnt and encourage us to work harder.”
  • “The course not only helps you learn the language but also understand the History of the language and how it developed over the years.  The teachers give insights into how the locals celebrate festivals and give tips on navigating through any culture shock you may be experiencing which I think is truly amazing.”
  • “From knowing nothing about Cantonese to writing essays in Jyutping, speaking in Cantonese characters, I feel I have come a long way in just 6 months.  I will end by saying 我喜歡上課、讀書、說廣東話和寫漢字。”


a. Both the First and the Certificate Examinations consist of written papers, oral tests and coursework.

b. The First Examination includes:

  • written papers in grammar and vocabulary; composition; reading comprehension;
  • oral tests in listening comprehension; oral reading and pronunciation; dictation; conversation; and
  • coursework assessment through progress tests; written and other assignments; individual tutor’s coursework mark.
  • c. The Certificate Examination includes:

  • written papers in grammar and vocabulary; reading comprehension; composition;
  • oral tests in listening comprehension; oral reading; discussion on prepared topics; oral presentation; and
  • coursework assessment in a written project; progress tests; written and other assignments.

  • Academic Terms (2018 – 19)

    Term 1

    September 3, 2018 (Mon) – December 7, 2018 (Fri)

    Term 2
    January 2, 2019 (Wed) – March 29, 2019 (Fri)

    Term 3
    April 8, 2019 (Mon) – July 5, 2019 (Fri)

    Examinations: July 2, 2019 (Tue) – July 5, 2019 (Fri)**
    ** (some examinations may take place in the afternoons)

    Class Suspension Period for the Lunar New Year:
    February 5, 2019 (Tue) – February 11, 2019 (Mon)

    Normal school hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Composition Fee (2018 – 19)

    Certificate in Chinese Language course:
    HK$88,200 (payable in 3 non-refundable installments)

    Term 1

    Term 2

    Term 3

    Application for Admission

    An applicant who wishes to take courses leading to the award of the Certificate in Chinese Language shall be admitted only upon satisfying the University entrance requirements.  Application Forms can be obtained from the Chinese Language Centre of the School of Chinese, Room 801, 8/F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU, Pokfulam, Hong Kong (Email: amyho.clc@hku.hk) or downloaded from the website http://www.chinese.hku.hk/CertChinLang_ApplicationForm.pdf.  Please complete an Application Form during the application period.  The completed form should be returned to the Chinese Language Centre together with 1) the original officially certified or declared copies of your HKID card/passport; 2) the original officially certified or declared copies of your academic transcripts and examination results (if you are not applying on grounds of “mature age”); 3) the proof of payment of the application fee HK$300.  The curriculum may not be offered if there are insufficient applicants.

    Copies of original documents [transcripts, examination results, or HKID card/passport] must be certified by the issuing authority concerned or a notary public. The name, status, and position of the person certifying the copies must be clearly stated. If you are in Hong Kong, you are suggested to bring along the original and photocopies of your supporting documents to the District Offices to make declarations (http://www.had.gov.hk/en/public_services/public_enquiry_services/provided.htm) and submit the original declared documents to our Centre by post or in person.

    Application Period: May 2 – June 29, 2018

    Visiting Students

    An applicant who does not satisfy the University entrance requirements may be admitted as a Visiting Student.  Visiting Student is not eligible for the award of the Certificate.  Fees are the same as those for the regular students.  Enquiries should be made at the Chinese Language Centre.

    Notes for Admitted Students

    Students who have been admitted and have paid the first term composition fees will obtain their timetables from the Chinese Language Centre Office via email in late August.

    Overseas Applicants

    Students are required to pay the first installment of the composition fee on acceptance of the offer of admission. In addition, they are required to provide the University, before their arrival, with a guarantee from a bank, or from their Consulate in Hong Kong, that they are able to support themselves financially throughout their period of study in Hong Kong. Admission to the University does not provide any guarantee of finding accommodation which remains the responsibility of each student. It is, therefore, in the interest of students to make definite arrangements for accommodation before arriving in Hong Kong. Incoming students who do not have secure arrangements for their accommodation are strongly advised to arrive in Hong Kong two or three weeks before the start of their term to allow time to find a suitable place to live. The Centre of Development and Resources for Students (HKU-CEDARS) (3/F, Meng Wah Complex, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, Tel: (852) 28592305, Fax: (852) 25460184, E-mail: cedars@hku.hk, Website: http://cedars.hku.hk) may be able to provide some useful information and advice on accommodation matters.

    Visa Requirements

    In general, unless a person has the right of abode or right to land in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), he/she requires a visa/entry permit to study in the HKSAR. Applications should be submitted to the Hong Kong Immigration Department via the Chinese Embassy in your country of residence. Application form can be downloaded from http://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/forms/hk-visas/study.html. Applicants should allow at least two months for the processing of a visa/entry permit application for study upon receipt of all the required documents. It is the responsibility of individual applicants to make appropriate visa arrangements before their departure from their home country.

    To apply for entry for study, the applicant should nominate a local sponsor. Any friends or relatives of the applicant residing in Hong Kong may act as a sponsor provided that he/she is a Hong Kong citizen aged 18 or above and financially capable to support the applicant and provide him/her with accommodation. An applicant who has difficulty in nominating a sponsor may apply to the HKU-CEDARS to act in this capacity. Please note that staff of the University should not be nominated as a sponsor unless prior agreement is obtained. Applicants seeking visa sponsorship should complete an application form which is obtainable from the HKU-CEDARS or downloaded from http://www.cedars.hku.hk/nonlocal/form/visa1819.pdf. Completed application forms should be submitted to the HKU-CEDARS with the required supporting documents and payment.

    According to the HKSAR Immigration Ordinance, a student visa holder is not allowed to take up any employment, whether paid or unpaid, in Hong Kong.

    All applications are processed and determined by the Immigration Department. Approval of applications is entirely discretionary and is subject to changes in government policies.

    For further details on visa application matters, please visit the website of the Hong Kong Immigration Department at http://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/study.html or the Centre of Development and Resources for Students of the University of Hong Kong (HKU-CEDARS) at http://cedars.hku.hk (please navigate -> Non-locals -> Pre-arrival -> Visa).

    Last update: 13 APR 2018