Reply To: Learning Mandarin in Chengdu

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Avatar photoCharlie

Hey Nell,

You’ll find Sichuan dialect in a few places in particular (restaurants, taxis, etc) but a lot of people here still speak clear Mandarin. Generally college-educated people, professional environments, etc.

Years ago when I started learning Chinese I committed to learning Mandarin and not Sichuan dialect so I have tried to minimize my Sichuan accent. For the most part it’s worked pretty well, and I know a few other expats in the city who have acquired very good, clear Mandarin.

I suggest learning pinyin as soon as possible, and learn how each syllable in Chinese sounds in Mandarin. You will hear a lot of phrases in Sichuan dialect anyway, but if you know how they sound in Mandarin, you’ll be alright. Keep in mind, there’s almost nowhere that you can learn Chinese that doesn’t carry some kind of accent or regional flavor. I know expats in Beijing that loathe the Beijing accent, which isn’t what standard Mandarin sounds like.