Have you ever thought how to learn Mandarin Chinese on your own, in other words: teach yourself?
Well, we understand Timo from Crazy Chinese Family did just that! So, we are very pleased to have Timo here today to answer some questions just how to teach yourself Chinese; Timo:
(1) Is learning Mandarin really as hard as it looks?
Yes and No! There is no clear answer as it always depends from which language family you come. Personally I grew up with German and Finnish. Now for me it is not hard to learn the language itself and especially the grammar is a blessing compared to Finnish! However the tones are the tricky part for me as I am just not used to really change the tone while speaking except in question sentences or similar. Thus I have really hard time always getting into the tones and I am pretty sure I will never be really good in it.
(2) If slow progress sometimes frustrates me, how can I improve my Chinese quickly?
The best way is of course to be in China and to be confident enough to just start talking. The next best thing is to sit down every single day, go through the study books, learn the vocabulary/ characters and try to just watch Chinese TV shows. Sure, it is much work but when you study every day you will quickly see results. Very good can be also tandem language learning however I never tried this one out.
(3) Now you are married to a Chinese woman, it can become complicated to address other Chinese people. Do you feel this way with your Chinese family or your other Chinese friends?
Sometimes I do have troubles addressing people in the proper form. For example all males around the age of my father-in-law I call 叔叔shūshu however my father-in-law’s former boss with whom we have eaten few times I am supposed to call 伯伯bóbo. Pretty hard to get around these things sometimes when you are used to call most people just by their names. With my Chinese friends I don’t have any issues as I just call them by their names and my Chinese family I generally use just the terms such as 妈妈māmā,爸爸bàbaand so on.
(4) I am interested in teaching myself Mandarin. What are the best ways of going about doing so?
Get yourself some proper study books, best with some audio material, enough time to sit down each day and perhaps few study application of which are plentiful to be found these days. As I mentioned before, it is really important to really study every day to make progress.
(5) Would you recommend any particular books or Mandarin learning tools? What kind of resources and methodsdo you mostly use for study?
This is a hard one. I have gone through multiple books over the past years and I can’t say which the best ones are. The same applies to Mandarin online learning tools. The problem is always that each person has different expectations on what study material should fulfil. But I think when it comes to the Mandarin online learning tools the infographic by Learn Mandarin Now is giving a pretty good idea what could all the checked out.
(6) Can you suggest some good music, TV shows or movies or other media to listen to or watch when you’re trying to learn Mandarin?
I don’t really listen to Chinese music except during my travels there due to KTV’s, radio and TV. When it comes to TV Shows and movies I pretty much stick to my wife. She watches everyday some shows and in case something looks interesting I just watch it with her. I certainly enjoyed iPartment爱情公寓 which is a Mainland sitcom from few years ago but I never started the third season.
(7) I know you now have a child. Congratulations! Do you and your wife plan to teach your child to speak Mandarin? If so, would you share some strategies for people who also want to teach their child Chinese?
We try to teach him multiple languages and to make this possible each one of us in the family has their language role to play. For example my wife speaks only Mandarin with him, I speak only English, my father only German and my mother mostly Finnish. We do hope that this will work as we saw good results through this strategy as few friends.
(8) If you forgot how to speak Mandarin Chinese and had to learn again from the very beginning, how would you go about it?
This time I would try to get earlier involved in actually speaking it. It took me too long this time till I started speaking few words and due to this I still got many problems with the language. Furthermore I would set myself a more strict study regime in order to make quicker progress.
Thanks Timo for answering our questions and taking the time to share your ideas and tips about the best ways to learn Mandarin Chinese.
We feel sure that all of our followers at Learn Mandarin Now will know that it’s much easier to study and become fluent speakers of Mandarin Chinese after reading this!