About the Chinese language
Mandarin the spoken language
Mandarin (the official language of China ) is the language spoken by most people in the world.
The language is spoken in mainland China, but also to some extent in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. All around mainland China very different dialects exist, but mandarin is still used as the primary language in schools. One can say that every person in China has two native languages mandarin as well as the local dialect.
The 2 written languages
The written language in mainland China is called Simplified Chinese. It consists of approximately 6700 characters. The written language has the advantage that it can be read and understood regardless of any spoken dialect.
The other written language is called Traditional Chinese. It is widespread in Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as among emigrated Chinese in the USA . It consists of approximately 12000 characters. However, writing in Traditional Chinese is disliked in mainland China !
It is up to you to decide whether you wish to learn both the spoken and written language, or you only wish to learn the spoken.