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Chinese Study


This guide provides an index of resources on China that are available either locally in UMD libraries or publicly online. Resources are organized as several popular topics, and readers are welcome to introduce new topics to us via email.

For a full list of available books in UMD libraries, please use the search engine on the Home Page.

Beginner's Guide

When referring to Chinese, people usually mean Mandarin for speaking, and Simplified-Chinese for writing, which are not always true. Before one start learning Chinese, there are a couple of things you need to know, as well as decisions to make.

Traditional Chinese Characters vs. Simplified Chinese Characters

Traditional Chinese characters(正體字) are those Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. The retronym "traditional Chinese" is used to contrast with Simplified Chinese characters(简体字), a standardized character set introduced by the government of the People's Republic of China on Mainland China in the 1950s. Traditional Chinese characters are currently used in Taiwan (Republic of China), Hong Kong, Macau and in Guangzhou; as well as in Overseas Chinese communities outside of Southeast Asia, although the number of printed materials in simplified characters is growing in Australia, USA and Canada, targeting or created by new arrivals from mainland China. Currently, a large number of overseas Chinese online newspapers allow users to switch between both sets. In contrast, simplified Chinese characters are used in mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia in official publications.


Mandarin vs. Cantonese

 Mandarin (國語 or 普通話) is the official language in Mainland China and Taiwan and is used by most of the Chinese schools, colleges and unversities and in most of the TV programs, movies, and radio stations all over the country. Cantonese (粵語 or 廣東話) is mainly spoken in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces and most of the overseas Chinese communities in Australia, Europe, North America and other parts of the world. But the number of Mandarin-speaking overseas Chinese people is increasing rapidly in recent years as more Taiwanese and people from Northern China immigrated and have been playing a more active role in the world economy and culture exchange. Cantonese is the most extensively spoken Chinese dialect after Mandarin because of the strong influence of Hong Kong’s economy and culture(pop songs, TV programs and movies) and also because more Cantonese people went abroad in the early years. guoyuyueyu

There are many online resources for beginner Chinese learners. can be a nice place to start with, and there are more introduction materials on the Begin to Learn Chinese section.

On-campus Resources

There are two major on-campus resources for learning Chinese:

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures provides undergraduate programs of Chinese major or minor to students in UMD. A list of courses and summer institute programs as listed on their homepage.

Confucius Institute at Maryland

The Confucius Institute at Maryland (CIM) provides non-credit courses on both Chinese language and Chinese culture. They also provide many helpful online resources for learning Chinese.