“There is no single way of learning something.”
This maxim, spoken by Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), well illustrates the fact that any learning methodology needs to be not only efficient, but tailored to each individual student as well in order to better learn and assimilate.
For example, when learning Chinese, some students find it more difficult than others to memorise, pronounce and reproduce the tones of the Chinese language, while others have difficulty remembering the Chinese characters, or understanding written Chinese.
Our memnonic capabilities are not created equal. Some people have a more oral memory, others a more visual one – in other words, some retain anything they hear spoken while others remember better if they read something, as if their eye were taking a mental photograph. Still others need two or three times as long to memorise Chinese characters, for example.
Taking Chinese language courses doesn’t just mean showing up at your Mandarin lesson: it’s a long and hard road that requires motivation, discipline and diligence.
It requires a daily dose of independent work. Here on Superprof we have worked out four tips to help you arrive at your Chinese class perfectly prepared – a necessary step in the process of learning Mandarin Chinese.
Also read these tips for the best ways to learn Mandarin…
It bears repeating: learning Chinese is not easy.
This millenia old language goes back to the dawn of history and even the most educated of Chinese – academics and other men and women of letters – don’t know all of the Chinese characters by heart.
As you can see, any beginner Chinese student has a long, steep road ahead of them!
However, notwithstanding the prospect of rapid progression, getting better at the Chinese language is obviously not impossible.
In fact you “only” need to know about 400 Chinese characters – about 2/3 of the most frequently used characters – to get along tolerably after three years of Chinese language courses.
But how to get there when you are just starting your beginner Mandarin classes?
The main thing is to carefully re-read your lessons as you go. Don’t let it slide or you will be overwhelmed or find yourself with gaps in your knowledge.
It is all the more important if you are taking beginner Chinese lessons. Remember:
Being attentive in class and listening to your teacher is 50% of the work
Re-reading your notes and reviewing regularly with a clear head makes up the remaining 50%
“Memory is the best camera there is” – Kevin Spacey.
Here are our recommendations to help you prepare your Chinese lessons and memorise them:
You still have trouble learning Mandarin despite these good habits?
You still need to take the time to sum things up at regular intervals.
Summary flashcards are an excellent way to help you memorise your Chinese language lessons – or, indeed, learn French, English or Spanish – more rapidly.
Don’t hesitate to put up posters with Chinese characters to help you work on your Mandarin pronunciation and vocabulary.
While I was a student at University, I was rarely stressed out when studying for exams because, instead of re-reading dozens and dozens of longhand A4 sheets, I had previously summed up the main points of the lessons in bullet points on little flashcards. This helped nudge the brain into retaining only the important information, to help me understand without learning by heart.
Learning Pinyin becomes easier when you use flashcards. Photo credit: http://klarititemplateshop.com/ via Visualhunt / CC BY
You’re not very organised, even a little lazy?
Here are some tips to help you learn Chinese:
By grouping each lesson into summary flashcards, vocabulary and pronunciation exercises will become easier. For example, you might try repeating these words aloud every day:
If you can’t contact your Mandarin teacher, get help from the internet.
Whether you are learning to play the piano or guitar or learning Chinese, there is no point in revising just before your lesson.
To assimilate the Chinese language, it’s better to work on it 5 to 10 minute a day than during an intensive, hours-long revision.
It can also be helpful to pretend you are in China right now…
Why not make use of some of these great Mandarin learning tools, too?
Immerse yourself in the language? Already? But why? Your trip to China isn’t until next year!
It’s quite simple: it lets your brain soak up the music of the Chinese language.
Since the language of Confucius is a tonal language, its phonemes sound odd to our ears.
In order to better understand the aids your teacher will give you in class, it can be helpful to hear Chinese spoken every day by native Mandarin speakers for listening practise.
Let’s look at the possibilities:
Watch Chinese films at film festivals in the original language, or else stream them or buy them on dvd or blue ray. Photo credit: digitALWINner via Visualhunt / CC BY
It has been frequently noted that online videos – from YouTube, for example – can help you learn a language easily. Learning Chinese is no different.
However, YouTube is not available in China. They use a similar site called
Youku.Of course, a beginner Mandarin student will not understand anything and it is important to know some basics of the Chinese language and understand spoken Chinese to follow the videos.
However, even before you understand what they say your brain will learn to identify the tone and sounds of new words better in the future.
One last tip to soak in the language while learning Chinese at home: find a native Chinese speaker. Hook up with a language partner – a native speaker who will help you learn Mandarin while you help them with their English.
There are a lot of Chinese students out there who want to better their English. Photo credit: maltzevans via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND
Mosalingua has created a page with links to various tools that will help you learn to speak Chinese like a native. Among them is Italki https://www.italki.com/home, a site that lets you find a language partner or else a native speaker to help you with Chinese lessons.
It’s like a Chinese Superprof!
The app is very easy to use. The catch? It costs about $15 to $27 per hour to for a teacher who is also a native Mandarin speaker. However, the language partners are is free – a true intercultural training programme, with a free, internation exchange of linguistic competence.
A must for preparing your Chinese language classes!
Discover how to find the perfect Chinese teacher for your learning needs…
Are you looking for a smartphone app that will help you revise for your Chinese lessons?
How better to work on your Chinese vocabulary everywhere you go than to have it on your smartphone?
There are more than 500 million Chinese watching videos online, and giving Chinese lessons is a way for them to make some money while learning English, French, Spanish, German or Portuguese.
With language apps, there are no walls between native speakers and students of Chinese. Photo via Visualhunt.com
Here, we’ll be describing Hello Talk, one way among many to learn the Chinese language and speak to native Mandarin speakers.
This app has more than one million users throughout the world and fits you to one of the thousands of language partners.
It’s a bit like the Facebook of foreign language courses: you can send a message to whomever you like and start trading languages!
Here is what you need to do (it’s quite simple):
It’s ideal for a free Mandarin lesson and for practising your written Chinese.
Is your trip to China coming up soon?
The Internet is a gold mine for discovering Chinese culture between two lessons, practice your Chinese and take a language immersion course before even setting foot in China!
How much do you think Mandarin lessons should cost? Find tutors to learn Chinese with Superprof. No mater where you live, you’ll be able to learn Mandarin London to Lincoln, from Plymouth to Portsmouth.