Spoken Hokkien

The Spoken Hokkien series consists of:

Spoken Hokkien is a modern functional beginner’s e-textbook with audio material for learners of Hokkien. It aims to equip learners with the ability to take part in basic to intermediate everyday conversation in Hokkien for visiting or living in Taiwan.

It is designed for English-speaking learners of Hokkien who are starting with little or no knowledge of the language. It emphasises speaking, listening and communicating, but also presents the written language through the familiar Roman alphabet. The lessons contain dialogue, vocabulary, examples, and sentence and phrase patterns. For motivated learners, there are also additional vocabulary, exercises, cultural information, songs, and grammatical explanations.

The e-book is supplied in PDF format and contains over 60 audio examples for dialogues, exercises, and vocabulary.

Summary of contents

The first 4 Lessons focus on pronunciation – sounds and tone, with comprehensive audio examples. The next 16 Lessons gradually extend competence and topics using various themes. Most Lessons include a spoken dialogue, new vocabulary, sentence patterns, grammar points, cultural information, and learner exercises.

Here are examples of themes and topics of Lessons:

  • Lessons 1-4 Pronouncing Hokkien – sounds and tone
  • Lessons 5-6 Asking questions and meeting people
  • Lessons 7-8 Talking about people, giving, likes and dislikes
  • Lessons 9-10 Talking about time and arrangements, including advanced questions, numbers, days of the week
  • Lessons 11-12 Talking on the phone, and talking about quantities, including negotiating prices, measure words (noun classes)
  • Lessons 13-14 Asking directions, talking about transport, plans and activities
  • Lessons 15-16 Inviting and talking about food and other people, including Chinese animal horoscope
  • Lessons 17-18 Shopping for clothes, making a hotel booking, talking about travel, colours
  • Lessons 19-20 Talking about health and illness, introducing friends, talking about employment, body parts and ailments

See also the Table of Contents and Introduction [PDF]


Purchasers of the e-book have access to a set of the complete audio content of each e-book as stand-alone MP3 files. Each e-book is supplied with a coupon with details for free download of the audio (the coupon is located after the last page of the e-book).

These stand-alone MP3s enable you to play the textbook’s audio content on any device that plays audio, using your favourite audio player app. For more information, see the Help page.

Some older computers may still have Adobe’s Flash installed, and can use your device’s Flash player to play audio directly in the PDF via a pop-up.

Pedagogical approach

The Spoken Hokkien series teaching material is based:

  • on a communication-focused ‘performance’ approach, using everyday language and conversation to enable students to function and communicate effectively in a Hokkien speaking environment
  • on a carefully designed sequence to help learners acquire the language quickly and efficiently
  • on a revised Roman script

To purchase the e-books

You can buy the downloadable PDF of the complete e-book, or in pairs of Lessons if you just want to trial the course or focus on particular topics.

Previously the printed book was available from various bookshops, including the SOAS bookshop in London and the Taiouan Bookshop in Taipei, but may be sold out now.

About Hokkien

Hokkien is spoken in Taiwan, in parts of China including Fujian Province, and other places in south-east Asia including Singapore and the Philippines. In Taiwan, it is also called Taiwanese, Taigi, Min Nan (Southern Min), Hoklo or Holo. There are several dialectal variants of Hokkien even within Taiwan; this textbook uses the variant spoken around the Tainan area, where Hokkien is most prevalent in Taiwan.

Teaching information

Of the limited teaching material available for Hokkien, most caters for learners who are (already) learners or speakers of Mandarin. However, this e-book is intended for learners of Hokkien who start with no or almost no knowledge of Hokkien and who come from a non-Chinese background. It is also written to support teachers and learners in a classroom situations where the emphasis is on developing free-flowing speaking and listening skills.

The Hokkien orthography in this e-book uses modified Roman characters, derived from a former missionary transcription system. Although this modern Romanisation is now widely used, it is not fully standardised, so other spellings are possible. In the first two lessons the International Phonetics Alphabet (IPA) is used to indicated sounds. This approach allows students to focus on the spoken language without the assumptions and distractions that result inevitably from using Chinese script.

The text was developed to provide a controlled and learnable sequence of vocabulary, structure and conversational functions. Ideally, each lesson should be fully mastered before moving on to the next one. In a class context, peer teaching, role play and performances, and intercultural competence are integral parts of this material.

Publishing Information

Original: Paperback (custom format: 21cm x 17cm) textbook, 167 pages with audio CD. First published (printed edition) 2010 by The School of Oriental African Studies, University of London for SOAS-UCL Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Languages of the Wider World. ISBN 978 0 7286 0391 2 This e-book version: first published April 2018. Republished with corrections May 2020.