Learning Chinese is an ambitious process. While some people might be shocked by your decision, you should definitely go for it! Stay motivated and do everything in your power to ensure that your language learning is as effective as possible.
Mandarin Chinese, after all, isn’t a simple language to learn. Although every language has its own complexities and aspects that are difficult to learn, Mandarin Chinese has a number of them. However, there are a lot of myths about the Chinese language that we’d like to debunk. For one, for those that regularly use the Latin alphabet, learning Chinese isn’t as easy as learning a language like German, Spanish, Italian, or French.
There are methods and techniques that can help you reach your goal of speaking Chinese. We should mention that when we say Chinese, we’re referring to Mandarin Chinese. Mandarin is the most common variant of what we generally refer to as Chinese with around 850 million speakers. It’s also probably be the first variant of Chinese that you’ll learn when you start studying. With that said, here are Superprof’s tips and tricks on how to learn Mandarin Chinese.
Are you considering teaching yourself Chinese instead of taking Chinese lessons? While being an autonomous learner can be more difficult than learning Chinese with a private tutor, it is more than possible to teach yourself Chinese to a good level.
Learning Chinese on your own can be difficult without the right techniques. (Source: Clem Onojeghuo)
If you’d like to understand and speak Mandarin Chinese, you have to be patient. If you’re on your own, you can expect to spend about two years studying before you are comfortable speaking conversational Chinese.
However, you can learn more quickly if you’re really motivated. Use the Chinese Pinyin system to help you romanise Chinese words and characters and spell out certain Mandarin Chinese characters when you first start learning them.
To get the most out of learning Chinese on your own, you should immerse yourself in as much Chinese as possible, focus on repetition and pronouncing words aloud, listen to a lot of Mandarin Chinese, and try memorising basic vocabulary.
In comparison to certain other languages, Chinese grammar tends to be much simpler and there are no conjugations. On the other hand, the four tones of Chinese can be very difficult for beginners to grasp. However, you don’t need to master them to make yourself understood.
If you’re going to learn Chinese on your own, you should follow this advice:
Start by getting your brain used to the sound of the Chinese language by watching videos and focusing on Chinese pronunciation, for example.
Don’t try and compare Chinese grammar to our own grammar.
Learn basic everyday words in Mandarin Chinese.
Practice Chinese every day to improve and make sure you’re using effective memorisation techniques.
Since you’re learning on your own, you won’t have anyone to correct your mistakes for you. However, this does also mean that you can learn at your own pace.
Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of useful resources for getting started with Chinese. Everyone can learn Chinese online and there are also a lot of free Chinese courses available.
Here’s what you can do:
Use the Pinyin romanisation system to get to grips with Chinese characters through the Latin alphabet. There are plenty of sites that can help you do this.
Download the Pleco dictionary app to help you look up words and learn how to pronounce. This app will be essential if you’re going to China or another Chinese-speaking country.
Use the Anki programme to help you memorise vocabulary.
Go to China or another Chinese-speaking country and immerse yourself in both the language and the culture.
These tools and tips should help you make great strides in Mandarin Chinese.
As we explained earlier, Chinese isn’t necessarily an easy language to learn. However, by using certain techniques, learning Mandarin Chinese can be made easier.
There’s also still hope for those who think learning Chinese is completely impossible. As we said, Chinese writing can be made easier to understand by romanising words.
Writing in Chinese can be made easier using the Pinyin system. (Source: picjumbo.com)
You also won’t need to perfectly understand and produce the four tones of Chinese in order to converse or make yourself understood in Chinese.
Additionally, there are no conjugations to worry about. For example, instead of saying I, you, we, or they “eat” and he, she, or it “eats” in English, the verb in Chinese will always remain the same.
Firstly, there are academic institutions and universities that work with the Confucius Institute. As a result, there are weekly Chinese classes being offered all over the country. If you’re a student, you could even get in touch with foreign student groups.
There are also platforms like Superprof offering private tutors that live nearby and are happy to offer tutorials at your home. Getting a private tutor is a great way to make sure that you’re not making silly mistakes in your new language and it’s a quick and easy way to learn a language.
Of course, the simplest way to learn Chinese is to go where the language is spoken. There’s nothing better than total immersion for learning how to speak Mandarin Chinese. Immersion can help you better understand the culture as well as how to express yourself in the language. This experience can also help you in your professional and personal life. You’ll come back completely changed!
The biggest hurdle when it comes to learning things is not enjoying it. Given that Chinese isn’t easy at the start, why should I bother giving up my limited free time just to suffer?
Here at Superprof, we’ve worked out a few ways to help you get the most out of your time when learning Mandarin Chinese.
Here are a few ways you can maximise your learning:
Make the most of time spent in traffic jams by practising Chinese in the car with podcasts and audio lessons.
If you travel by public transport, you can use that time to practise Chinese using apps and websites.
Listen to the radio in Chinese when you’re out running or walking.
Now that we’ve worked out when we can study, how can we make it more fun?
Make sure you have as much fun as possible when you’re learning Chinese. (Source: Sindhu Wijaya)
If you enjoy learning a new language, you’re far more likely to learn. Here are a few tips for making sure you enjoy learning Chinese as much as you can:
Get a tutor you enjoy spending time with.
Watch films to immerse yourself in Chinese culture. We recommend watching Lost in Thailand, a film that tells the stories of three Chinese people in Thailand.
Improve your understanding of Chinese by listening to songs. There are a number of sites where you can stream Chinese music.
Use the Ninchanese app to learn Mandarin Chinese through computer games.
There are plenty of tips and tricks for those wanting to learn Mandarin Chinese quickly. Here are a few for those who are willing to work hard towards their goal of learning Chinese as quickly as possible.
These methods can help you learn Chinese as quick as lightning. (Source: pixabay.com)
However, you have to make sure you don’t overdo it and end up burning out before you’ve even started to make any progress.
If you want to speak Chinese, you have to put in the effort on a daily basis.
Use the Pinyin romanisation system to get to grips with Chinese characters through the Latin alphabet. This can make the Chinese writing system a little easier to understand.
Make sure you don’t confuse the many variants of Chinese when you’re studying. Mandarin Chinese is probably what you want to learn when you say you want to study “Chinese”.
There are no conjugations to worry about so don’t try and understand Chinese grammar as you would English grammar.
After you’ve learnt the basics, you should practise as much as you can in order to cement what you’ve studied.
Try to immerse yourself in Chinese as much as you can and avoid speaking your own language.
Focusing on understanding and pronouncing the four tones at the beginning is a fruitless endeavour. You don’t need to master the tones of Chinese in order to converse and make yourself understood at the start.
Use a variety of different digital learning tools.
Dedicate between 15 and 30 minutes every day to speaking in Chinese on a variety of topics. Why? To ingrain the Chinese language onto your subconscious.
Learn a new word each day and try to use it in order to better remember it. Try making vocabulary and word lists so that you can look up new words more easily.
We can’t really talk this much about a language without mentioning how to speak it, can we?
Language lessons at schools tend to focus on mastering grammar and listening in order to pass exams. However, we’d like to look at how you can converse in Chinese.
Of course, the best way to learn how to speak Chinese as soon as possible is to immerse yourself fully in a country where Chinese is spoken daily. There are plenty of organisations and programmes for those wanting to live and travel in China.
However, you don’t have to just up and leave if you want to learn Chinese. You can always enlist the help of a Chinese tutor to help you learn the language at a more relaxed pace. For example, there are plenty of native Chinese speakers on Superprof. The average price for Chinese tuition is London is £21 per hour and this rate is even lower outside of the capital.
Don’t forget that there are also a number of useful applications that can help you practise your Chinese such as:
Learning Chinese Mandarin Phrasebook
Baobei Ting Ting