How to learn Chinese is up to you, but is really not that difficult.
Dispel all of those concerns you may have had when you first listened to the language being spoken or first saw Chinese characters. Plenty of foreigners have mastered Mandarin Chinese and, of course, 20% or so of the world’s populations speaks and reads it… so, in reality, it can be that hard, can it?
The video is created by ChinesePod TV: https://chinesepod.com/
Confidence: that extra ingredient
Remember when you were doing your school or University exams, you knew your subject well, knew it all, but just need that extra ingredient, confidence? It’s just the same with learning Mandarin Chinese. You have to believe that you can do it…, you can conquer those tones and tricky characters.
Obviously an opposite to being confident, but don’t let any negativity about the true size of the task you are taking on in learning Mandarin Chinese get in the way. Negativity is for losers… start positive and remain positive; just think, it takes a native Chinese speaker around 10 years to get where they want to be with their own language!
Learning Mandarin Chinese can be likened to learning German or French in the sense that one of the first things you need to do is to decide which approach is best for you. Teach yourself via books or the internet or a combination of the two; join a group, have on-on-one tuition or, for the more extreme approach, simple go and immerse yourself in the country and its culture.
Select your course and course material well
Whether you do plan to be self taught or join a course, do some research and find out about recommended books and courses. Do your “homework” on the internet looking for good and bad reviews of certain books and audio courses. Ask around and see if any of your friends have studied Mandarin Chinese recently and ask for their recommendations and suggestions for you—after al they should know you well enough to know what you are like!
Really focus on the task in hand in the early stages
Especially for the beginners, read and listen to the material on your beginner’s course as this will provide a great foundation for future study. Try to set aside at least 30 minutes, more if practical, per day to really get to grips with Mandarin Chinese. Time spent doing quality study now will also show benefits farther along the way. It’s often said you never forget the initial building blocks of a language and Mandarin Chinese is no exception.
Be realistic in your goals
Unfortunately, to learn Mandarin Chinese well and effectively involves and great deal of effort and hard work—there is no “quick fix”, really…
So with this thought in mind, make your goals and objective realistic. Try and aim to learn a manageable number of new words every day, every week, maybe 20 or 30 to begin, before stepping up the numbers—but not so many as to make you forget the ones you learnt on Monday, or to make the whole learning process just a chore.
Is he or she talking to themselves?
Not exactly but, in addition to the time mentioned above which you set aside to study Mandarin Chinese, use some of the other downtime you have in day to practice your tones or vocabulary. Maybe when you are waiting for the underground train to go home, or journeying on the bus; or during a quiet period at lunchtime—practice and practice. Just don’t make your neighbour think you are talking to yourself! HelloTalk is a great new language learning App that helps you find Chinese speaking partners. You can check our review here.
HelloTalk is a great new language learning App that focusses on really helping you learn the language of your choice.
Learning Mandarin Chinese characters
Most people suggest that you leave aside Chinese characters in the early stage of your study. However, after maybe a month or six weeks, they will become more important and it’s worth spending 15-30 minutes a day learning some of them. Learning the radicals first, or as you encounter them, is best as this will enable you to quite accurately guess new characters later on.
Single words or sentences
Many students find that learning short but complete sentences are better than learning words, as you learn grammar and new vocabulary simultaneously. Often there is more interest and easier to hold attention this way, instead of simply repeating single words. Sentences with audios are preferred so that you can repeatedly hear the tones and the correct pronunciations.
Let your Chinese friends know what you are up to and call upon them to help if they can. Even if it just listening to your pronunciation or, better still, have a short exchange of conversation with you on a daily basis will help—even if it the most basic exchange about the weather or the time… speaking, listening, responding all helps.
“When the going gets tough the tough get going” is an old cliché but one which is very apt for learning Mandarin Chinese. It will not be an easy, smooth journey and, who knows, there may be times when you want to stop, to give in.
But don’t! Hey, you’ve come this far so why not see it through. Sure there will be highs and lows but the end solution of speaking with new friends, acquaintances and business colleagues will be reward in itself.
The Last One
Finally, enjoy your study of Mandarin Chinese. It’s both one of the oldest and one of the major languages of the world. Learn it and learn if well. Learn and enjoy what you are doing and, of course, it all makes it that much easier!
To help you get the most out of learning Mandarin Chinese, here are some links to articles and informative pieces, suggestions and tips which we have prepared to help you on your journey in becoming an accomplished, effective speaker and reader of the language: