Speak Mandarin in 500 Words – Free PDF Book

Everyone’s reason for learning Chinese is different, from going to China for business, moving to Taiwan to teach English, or just to give yourself a challenge. No matter what your reason is, one thing remains the same – before you can progress you need to get the basics down first, as it’s the basics that will allow you to get by in your daily life using only Chinese. Luckily the Taiwanese Ministry of Education provides a free book for learning basic Chinese called Speak Mandarin in 500 Words.

Speak Mandarin in 500 Words

Speak Mandarin in 500 Words differs from most text books in that it’s specifically aimed at Mandarin Chinese for every day tasks and experiences:

This reader has 30 lessons and each lesson has four units: “Text”, “Words and Phrases”, “Review”, and “Extended Practice”. The Text Unit, is practice-oriented, and its materials are drawn from daily life. The materials range from self-introduction to family, school, communication, and daily dialogues.

The lessons included in the book cover basic situations like greeting people in the morning, asking where to buy something and making telephone calls. While these may not seem the most exciting topics they are essential ones, so it’s worth keeping this book around and practicing a few chapters now and then as a supplement to your main studies.

How Much Is It?

The great thing out the book is that it’s available in many languages, not just English. Portugese, French, Thai, Indonesian, German and Spanich version are available. There is one caveat though – the book is only available in Traditional Chinese and not Simplified. Though, as Pinyin and Zhuyin pronunciations are included this shouldn’t be an issue for people who are learning Simplified and this might even be a good way to start learning some key words in Traditional Chinese.

Download: Speak Mandarin in Five Hundred Words

15 responses to “Speak Mandarin in 500 Words – Free PDF Book

  1. dear sir,
    i am beginner in mandarin chinese bt i cant get the material for reading. so if possible can you send me the mandarin chinese material in pdf format on my mail id. so for that i much grateful to you sir.

      1. I have dwelt in N Sichuan since 2003. I downloaded 500 Words via Kickasstorrents. I clicked on an icon and it ‘speaks’ the sentences.

    1. Hi,
      i was reading your message and was wondering did you get a email about useful chinese books to learn from and if so could you tell me them, because me and my friend are learning mandarin from home now

  2. Wow, nice, beautiful! But.. Shared hands will be a nice hand at last.. To work with others better than working lonely

  3. I downloaded the PDF file with sound. However, the sound file will not play on an Android tablet.

    Please tell me what App I need to install in order to play the sound files. (Or what PDF Reader do I need) Thank you so much.


  4. Hi Dave,
    i’m a taiwanese, there’re two options as Hanyu Pinyin ( international )and Tongyong Pinyin ( taiwan use only), which one did you take? do you find the big difference between those two?

    thanks if you have opinions on this.

    1. Hi Shiao,
      I don’t use either. I learnt Mandarin in Taiwan, and my teacher taught Zhuyin. Though, to answer your question more directly, Hanyu Pinyin is most widely used, so I’m sure you’ll find most foreign learners of Chinese use this.
      Thanks for the comment,

  5. Hi Dave,
    I’m impressed that you learnt Zhuyin,currently i’m living in UK my friend has the intention of learning Mandarin, so i’m searching some free materials and see how it goes, pinyin seems easier for the beginner to start with. thanks the reply.and this is a nice website!!


  6. hi dave.
    i’m so interested in learning the chinese language and i need the most simplified materials for initiation.

  7. Hi Dave,
    using this guide is extremely useful but i am still baffled by the writing. pronunciation of words; i have no problem with but writing just looks insane!
    I wanted to ask you what made you live in taiwan?
    and can you write in mandarin aswell?
    I’m also from the UK but i want to live in china most likely shanghai when i can… was the step for you very difficult or did you have something like a job waiting for you in taiwan so it was an easy step?

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