Apart from China, Chinese is spoken in other countries too. Which countries speak Chinese?
One thing that’s good to know is the difference between the Mandarin and Cantonese dialects. Both are ‘Chinese language’ but not entirely the same language. Mandarin is the only official language in China, while Cantonese is one of China’s regional dialects, which is spoken in the regions of Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao. Other details you can read in our article here.
Those aren’t just the only two languages in China, but they are the only two ‘Chinese languages’ that are spoken outside of China.
Countries in which Mandarin Chinese is an official language
Apart from China, Mandarin Chinese (普通话pútōng huà) is an official language in Singapore. This dialect is called ‘Singaporean Mandarin‘, and among English, Malay and Tamil is one of the four official languages of Singapore. In Singapore students in primary and middle schools get Mandarin classes!
Countries in which Chinese is spoken
The Chinese language, whether Cantonese or Mandarin dialect, or both, is spoken all across the world. Nowadays, China is becoming a more and more important economic superpower, and more foreigners start to learn Chinese to prepare to do business with China. But the main reason Chinese is spoken in other countries is that Chinese people, for centuries, have moved all across the world and settled in new areas.
Thailand by more than 8 million speakers — even though it’s not an official language. Maybe this is no wonder because Thailand has a substantial proportion of its population is ethnically Chinese.
Similar Asian countries are Chinese is spoken are Malaysia (2,4 million speakers) and Vietnam (1,3 million Chinese speakers). (This variant is called Malaysian Mandarin.)
The United States also has a large Chinese diaspora. Almost 3 million Chinese language speakers live in the United States, especially in the states New York and California. Sarah Johnson writes about speaking Chinese in San Fransisco here.
Chinese is also spoken a lot in Canada with 450,000 Chines speakers. GoEast’s Emily writes about speaking Mandarin Chinese in Ontario. Emily writes about Chinese language in Canada: on the airport, and in a local Chinese supermarket.
Other countries with a lot of Chinese speakers are Australia (710,000) and New-Zealand (108,000), and Japan (253,000).
Chinese is spoken in every country
That said, nowadays Chinese is spoken around the world in every country.
- Morris Long (龙鳞 Lóng Lín), teacher of GoEast in Shanghai and online, writes about speaking (and teaching) Chinese in Valdivia, Chile.
- And our student Jaap writes about speaking Chinese in his hometown in the Netherlands.
More and more countries realize the importance of Chinese (and China) for the future, and start to offer Mandarin as a vocational subject on primary or middle schools.