What is the difference between Chinese courses?

This may be obvious, but I need clarification.

Of course Cantonese is its own thing, but I see there are two Mandarin Courses.
Traditional Chinese (With Taiwanese flag) & Chinese (with the Chinese flag).

Are these the same mandarin language?
What are the differences? Only that one is traditional writing and the other simplified?

As a beginner which one should I go for?

I want to learn and enjoy the language, and I have read that learning simplified is way easier if you first learn traditional, plus I am indeed interested in understanding and consuming older stuff.

In my superficial understanding of the matter, I believe I should go for traditional for a deeper and more complete journey.

Plus I don’t want to learn simplified and then lack in my understanding of traditional, and I believe that if I learn first Traditional, the simplified will come easier.

So can you confirm the differences in the courses?
And also any feedback regarding on which system I should first focus as a beginner?

Also, is traditional only used in HK, Macau & Taiwan? What about the mainland?

Thank you :slight_smile:


I’ve recently written a bit about traditional and simplified characters here: Chinese Question About Simplified Vs Traditional Characte...

The flag here on LingQ is somewhat misleading, the majority of the content in the Chinese Traditional library is from Mainland Mandarin speakers (普通话) there is very little Taiwanese Mandarin content.
In general both variants are mutually intelligible, I think the differences become more relevant when speaking, there are different ways of expressing things and also some differences in pronunciation / tones.

This depends on your goals, if your life is centered around Taiwan (friends, family, work) then traditional sounds like the obvious choice, if your focus is on on the Mainland then it’s simplified. If you’re more interested in content consumption (books, TV) then choose whatever character variant the bulk of your desired content is in. If your goals are more along the lines of personal growth, general learning, finding a challenge, then it doesn’t really matter.
Eventually, you probably want to learn both. It might be best to become comfortable with one variant first though. The idea to start with traditional characters is solid in general but maybe not on LingQ specifically…
I feel like I have to point out a couple of downsides to Chinese Traditional on LingQ:

  • Significantly less content in the library
  • More technical problems / less support (beta language)
  • Fewer users → fewer high-quality user hints when looking up words
  • No audio timestamps
  • Fewer dictionaries

But I’m sure it’s possible to start with Traditional on LingQ, I think a handful of people have done that (hopefully they can chime in), just a bit harder and you’ll have to become autonomous earlier, i.e. find your own content sooner.

Media and official writing are basically exclusively in simplified, but I think calligraphy is still in traditional (for aesthetic reasons I assume).


Learning simplified vs traditional is based on your association on which region you want to focus on. For example, mainland uses mostly simplified. Traditional characters are within Taiwan, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, etc.

Personal opinion is if you want to just speak the language asap, simplified would give you a slight advantage since it’s easier to read, which lets you convert to listening quicker but traditional has it’s advantage in which it’s easier to learn simplified afterwards, reading common newspapers, and learning authentic chinese (huge debate). I believe that traditional has more long term benefits in an efficiency and cost return stance but simplified is simply easier to acquire the language in a time based setting.

Had this debate when first starting but went with simplified due to wanted to learn the language as fast as possible.