With the number of Chinese people living in the U.S., Canada, and other countries around the globe, and with the rise of China as an economic and cultural powerhouse on the world stage, Chinese bilingualism today is more important than ever. One of the most important questions that new potential Chinese learners ask themselves is: Should I learn Mandarin or Cantonese?
If you want to be able to communicate with the maximum number of Chinese speakers around the world, Mandarin is the language you should choose. It is the official language of China and is taught by most of the Chinese schools, colleges and universities.
As being the most widely spoken language in the world, somewhere down the road, you will more likely run into someone whose first language is Mandarin than Cantonese.
Mandarin and Cantonese are dialects of the Chinese language and both are spoken in China. Even though they share the same base alphabet, they are two different languages.
Mandarin is the official state language of China and is the primary spoken language in most of the country, including Kunming, Beijing and Shanghai. It’s also the main dialect in Taiwan and Singapore.
Mandarin has become the language of business, tourism, and education, with more people than ever learning Mandarin as a second language. There are more than 960 million native Mandarin speakers worldwide.
Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong, Macau and the Guangdong province. Many foreign Chinese communities in cities like London and San Fransisco speak Cantonese. This is because historically many Chinese immigrants came from Guangdong. There are more than 60 million native Cantonese speakers worldwide.