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10 Tips to Learn Mandarin Chinese

ElzetteNovember 18, 2020

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

This is a guest post by DigiEduPro. Check them out if you are interested in studying in China.

Mandarin Chinese is one of the more complex languages to learn, especially for English speakers. Mandarin Chinese is spoken by most of the people in China and is considered the national language of the country. Although China has many native Chinese dialects, Mandarin is the most common within formal and political society in China.

With proper guidance and daily practice, it is possible to learn Mandarin. Practice alone with textbooks, Mandarin-speaking friends, or online with the many online Mandarin schools that exist. Keep reading on for a basic overview of the most important things you need to know about learning Mandarin Chinese.

If you want to learn Chinese, it’s best to choose a language program that guides you gradually towards understanding and builds confidence in speaking Chinese. Online programs and apps that promise you can learn Chinese in a few minutes a day sound tempting, but it’s hard to increase confidence in the language unless you get beyond vocabulary addition and focus on all aspects of language learning, like Chinese grammar and writing.

Learning Chinese is about the journey towards understanding and speaking Chinese. That’s why language learning programs are built to scale naturally from simple, frequently used conversational phrases in context to more complex elements of the Chinese language. The Chinese writing system may be challenging, but spoken Mandarin does have several things in common with English, including quite a few elements of grammar and sentence structure. Mandarin is also straightforward in that it does not contain a gendered or singular or plural number.

Tones are the main problem for beginner learners of Mandarin. Many students find that Chinese words are very easy to forget even after you learned and remembered them. If you do not regularly hear a word again and again after you learned it, you will forget it and all your previous learning efforts were wasted. You can practice learning Mandarin in many ways like eating in a restaurant or, if you are living in China or near a local Chinese community, travelling by bus or metro or walking on a busy road by listening to the conversations of native Chinese speakers.

Let us give 10 best ways to learn Chinese.

Do basic research

You need to do some basic research about your target language. There are many articles and videos that present the Chinese language. You should read and view these to know the language’s general history and how it works.

Learn pinyin

Pinyin is the most frequently used system for writing Chinese using roman letters. After providing yourself with some fundamental resources, learn to pronounce words properly in Chinese. The key to pronouncing Chinese words, and reading Chinese characters for that subject, is to start by learning pinyin. One thing to be careful of when learning pinyin is that it is not pronounced exactly like what it in English.

Find some Chinese learning materials

To develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Chinese you need some research where you can learn Chinese in a systematic way. Mandarin Chinese consists of characters/ standard script, the phonetic script, and tone marks. Characters are used everywhere in daily life like, books, newspapers, signs, etc. Phonetic scripts and tones, together called Pinyin, are used in dictionaries and textbooks to guide learners to learn the pronunciation of the characters.

Devote half an hour to an hour a day just to learning characters. You can use whatever method you want but set aside dedicated character learning time every day.

Check out this comprehensive list of resources for learning Mandarin Chinese.

Listen to words and conversations over and over

Never stop practicing. No matter how busy life gets, set aside time to practice the things you’ve learned. It’ll help you remember them and encourage you to further your learning. You can choose Chinese shows and dramas with subtitles. There are so many video streaming sites available on the web.

Combine your various interests with your learning

Don’t keep your learning so serious to the point that it becomes a burden to you. Make it fun and enjoyable. If you love music, then use Chinese music to learn Chinese. If you love reading, check out interesting Chinese novels. If you are a fan of movies or TV shows, then watch Chinese counterparts. There are so many avenues of learning available for you to discover.

Make friends with Chinese people

This is a brilliant way to expand your horizons, not just regarding the Chinese language, but also their culture as well. At the dinner table, going to a bar, or a casual Sunday afternoon stroll exploring China you can practice your language learning with locals.

HelloTalk is a great way to find new friends and practice your Mandarin.

Practice Chinese every day

The more you study, the faster you will improve and the more you enjoy studying, the more you will study. Start small with 30 minutes of studying Chinese per day. It is far better to do 30 minutes a day than to do 3 or 4 hours in a single sitting once a week and risking burnout. Do your best to make learning Chinese part of your daily ritual.

Find tips on how to make language learning part of your daily routine here.

Change your phone to Mandarin

It might sound scary, however, you will be shocked how well you can navigate your phone by just looking at the symbols. It is an effective way to learn Mandarin faster. You can memorize simply by repeating and using it in your daily life. You will never forget some characters after a few days of using them. Once you’ve mastered that, do the same with your personal computer or laptop.

Get a Chinese tutor

Since people have the internet and YouTube, they think they can learn anything all on their own nowadays. But this is not true for everything. A good teacher is key to learning to speak Chinese. Do yourself a favour and find a tutor as soon as you can. A teacher can help you by providing all the necessary things like practicing every day, learning Chinese tones, providing the best materials, etc.

Get apps to learn Chinese

Every year technology becomes more and more advanced. There are plenty of apps out there for all aspects of Chinese learning. You can download free Chinese language learning apps to learn from anywhere. Not all of them are good, but you can find many apps that can actually help you in your learning process. You can also judge your learning progress from these apps.

Duolingo: Duolingo is one of the best and most popular language learning apps ever. Work through different levels to build up from your first words to complex sentences. As you learn, you will gain points and compete against your friends for the best scores every week. It’s an excellent way to learn a language over months without dedicating large parts of your day to the activity.

Du Chinese: Du Chinese is an innovative app that will help you to improve your Chinese reading skills. You can read by yourself or listen to an audio recording and read along. The characters and pinyin layout look very comfortable.

Skitter: Writing is an important skill when you’re learning any language. Skritter’s main goal is to help learners learn to write Chinese characters – and write them correctly. Another great feature that Skritter offers is the ability to track your progress. They keep track of how many characters are introduced, how many are practiced, and how many are memorized.

Pleco: It is the most useful frequently used dictionary app for people who are learning Mandarin. It allows you to quickly look up a Chinese word or character wherever you are. It allows you to handwrite instead of typing which is very useful when searching for characters you don’t know.

HelloChinese: HelloChinese is an excellent Chinese learning app for beginners. There are a lot of lessons and topics available. It helps to make a difficult language easier to learn. This includes games, pronunciation courses, offline support, and support for both simplified and traditional Chinese.

Memrise: Memrise periodically encourages you to review what you’ve already learned, helping shift those words to your long-term memory. Memrise is packed with many clips of native speakers so that you can improve your listening skills while learning how to pronounce words and phrases clearly.

When you first download an app, you will often start with a lot of enthusiasm, but then the magic often stops. The best way to make your app learning sustainable is to set a time limit on it. For example, 15 minutes on learning and remembering new words, and then 15 minutes on learning how to actually use them. This may not seem like a lot, but if you do this every single day, you’ll get better results than practicing for long times, and then getting app burn-out and not opening them for weeks.

Everyone has their own preferred methods of learning Chinese. Your dedication and hard work will pay off. Mandarin is actually easy, rather than difficult. You can learn it through trial and error, through experiments, through experiencing, and through self-exploration.

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