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Learning a foreign language is never easy as it involves going outside of your comfort zone. This is even truer when it comes to learning Chinese as it uses a completely different writing system to our own and it's almost impossible to decipher without any prior understanding of it. There are few languages less similar to our own than Chinese. However, with the help of an experienced Chinese tutor or teacher, you’ll quickly be able to learn the basics before moving on to having basic conversations and asking everyday questions.
Are you getting ready for a trip to China or Taiwan? There’s one important thing left for you to do, learn the Chinese language. With 1.3 billion native speakers, Chinese is actually a group of related languages rather than a single mutually intelligible language.
These include Wu (spoken Shanghai), Cantonese (spoken in Guangzhou, Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao), Gan, Hakka, Min (spoken in Taiwan), Xiang, Jin, Hui, Ping, and Mandarin, the most widely spoken of the languages. Standard Mandarin Chinese, or Hanyu, is the language of the Han people, is the most commonly taught and the official language of the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Singapore. If you decide to learn Chinese in London, you’ll probably be taught standard Mandarin Chinese, as it’s the most common Chinese language.
While Chinese has never been the most commonly taught language at GCSE and A Level, its numbers have been increasing in recent years. European languages such as French, Spanish, Italian, and German have traditionally been more popular. In fact, Chinese surpassed German at A Level this year. Given that Mandarin Chinese has over 900 million native speakers, you’d have thought that this would have happened a number of years ago. But China is a faraway land, not a European neighbour like Germany or France. Students have previously preferred not to learn this confusing and distant language.
Mandarin is a tonal language which uses four different tones that can change the meaning of each syllable. The Pinyin romanisation system represents these tones by using diacritic marks over the vowels: a macron, an acute accent, a circumflex accent, or a grave accent. That isn’t all, though. You can divide Mandarin Chinese into two main groups. Simplified Chinese is used in the People's Republic of China whereas Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan. The Pinyin system can be used to help those familiar with the Latin alphabet learn Chinese.
However, students shouldn’t overuse the Pinyin system and should instead focus on learning Chinese characters and what they mean. With a bit of study, you’ll be able to recognise the most commonly used characters. After a few classes with a private tutor, you'll be able to phonetically transcribe some Chinese words with the help of a Chinese dictionary and be familiar with a few expressions to help you get around Chinese speaking countries. Reading and writing in Chinese may seem like a long way away, but you can always speed up the learning process by immersing yourself in the language.
You can learn Chinese quickly. However, it'll probably take you longer than it would be learning a language more similar to English.
If you want to reach an advanced level in Chinese, you’ll need a good understanding of grammatical structures, vocabulary, speaking, etc.
There are plenty of reasons for learning Chinese.
In fact, speaking Chinese will give you a rare skill and set you apart from other potential employees. You can open the doors to more jobs, demand a higher salary, or make a career change. Learning Mandarin with private tutors in London is a great way to further your career.
Additionally, you can also start looking for jobs in China and Taiwan as many positions will require some understanding of the Chinese language. As the most spoken language in the world and the language of one of the world’s superpowers, Chinese is becoming an increasingly important language on the world stage. China, “the world’s workshop”, has changed drastically in the last 15 years. Speaking Chinese is a great way to get into international businesses dealing in finance, technology, translation, interpreting, and even huge international organisations like the United Nations, etc.
Chinese lessons are a great way to deepen your understanding of the language, improve your speaking skills, and get to grips with the writing system. Private classes will be like a linguistic exchange to help you improve your knowledge of the foreign language. No matter where you’re living in London, there are plenty of tutors all over the city. Whether you’re in Camden, Greenwich, Enfield, Croydon, Richmond, Islington, Hackney, Barnet, or Fulham, you’ll be able to find private Chinese tutors. There are 120,000 people of Chinese origin in London and they make up a third of the country’s entire Chinese population.
Would you like to learn Chinese? You could do a language exchange with a native Chinese speaker and help them to speak to speak English while they help you with your Chinese. You can find Chinatown in the City of Westminster. Of course, this isn’t the only place in the capital where you can find Chinese speakers. However, it is a useful place to start looking for Chinese immersion without having to take a plane to China.
What better way to discover a language than to immerse yourself in it and the culture? If you want to immerse yourself in the Chinese language and culture, you can go to places like Beijing, Guangzhou, or Taipei. Spending time in Mainland China or other Chinese-speaking areas is great for learning the language. Once you leave the major cities, it’s unlikely that you’ll find many people who can speak English, even among the younger generations. While the internet can help you learn to say the odd phrase like “ni hao” (hello), it can’t help you in a conversation.
If you’d like to become an intermediate or advanced speaker of Chinese, you need only to find the right private Chinese tutor on Superprof. Your tutor can tailor their conversation or writing tutorials to you in order to get the most out of every hour you spend together. Regardless of your level on the CEFR, be it A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, or C2, you’ll be able to find a tutor to help you.
These lessons are taught by qualified and experienced teachers. You can find night lessons in a number of different establishments.
Remember that Mandarin isn’t as difficult as you might think: A lot of words are made up of common characters and syllables:
Let’s have a look at “tai”, “zhong”, “guó”, “bei”, “nan”, “jing”, “shan”, “xiang”:
Tai = city, 台
Zhong = middle, centre, 中
Guó = country, 華
Bei (or Pei) = north, 北
Nan = south, 南
Jing = capital, 京
Shan = mountain, 山,
Xiang = elephant, 象.
With just these 8 characters, you can make plenty of Chinese words:
Zhongguó, The Middle Kingdom
Tainan, “the city in the south”, Taiwan
Taizhong, “the city in the centre”, Taiwan
Beijing, “the capital of the north”, China
Xiangshin, “elephant mountain”, a famous mountain in the southeast of Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei, “the city of the north”, the capital of Taiwan
Nanjing, “capital of the south”, southeast China.
If you want to learn Chinese as a beginner, you’ll need to familiarise yourself the pronunciation of Chinese words and the different tones. You’ll need to learn characters, grammar (pronouns, adverbs, verbs, adjectives, meanings of words, etc.), vocabulary, and writing. Head to the site and find the right private tutor for you: compare rates, qualifications, and experience, etc.
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