Answer to the Exercise on 课(kè) vs. 班(bān)-Two Ways to Talk About “Classes” in Mandarin

Correct Answer: A

Foreigners who are in the process of learning Chinese are most likely taking some sort of Chinese course. Some of them take online Chinese lessons and some join in-person classes in their home countries. No matter what kinds of courses you are taking, there are two Chinese words related to class which will come in handy: “课(kè)” and “班(bān).”

“课(kè)” and “班(bān)” both mean “class” in English. However, their meanings are slightly different.

“课(kè),” when it is used to refer to “class”, means “a short period of time when people are taught a particular skill or knowledge.” For example, “中文课(zhōngwénkè) Chinese lesson,” “体育课(tǐyùkè) physical education or P.E. lesson,” etc. The verb used along with “课(kè)” is “上(shàng),” as in “上课(shàngkè).” For example, “上中文课(shàng zhōngwén kè) take a Chinese lesson,” “上音乐课(shàng yīnyuè kè) have music class.”


Wǒ xǐhuan shàng měishù , yīnwèi wǒ xǐhuan huàhuà.
我   喜欢    上        美术,   因为   我  喜欢    画画。
I like taking art class because I like painting.

Wǒ bādiǎn kāishǐ shàng zhōngwén.
我   八点     开始   上       中文
My Chinese class begins at 8 o’clock.

“班(bān),” on the other hand, means “a group of students who are taught together.” Usually, “班(bān)” are numbered in order to make a distinction between different classes, such as “一班(yībān),” “二班(èrbān),” and so on.


Wǒ zài yī bān, nǐ ne? .
我   在 一, 你呢?
I am in Class No.1, how about you?

Èr bān zài shàng zhōngwénkè.
在  上        中文课。
Class No.2 is in Chinese class now.

To sum it up, the students of a “班(bān)”are taking one or more “课(kè)” together. Therefore, the correct answer in the above test is A.

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