To help Mandarin learner to avoid some mistakes on their journey of learning the Chinese language and to let these students can focus on the steps that really made a difference. I hope you can get some inspiration after reading today’s post and join the Keats Mandarin community in a near future!
Tip 1: The Chinese language may look difficult at the very beginning stage but it gets easier to learn as time being.
Lots of people believe that Chinese is one of the most difficult languages in the world. As for the Chinese writing system, a non-alphabetic system comprising thousands of pictographs called “characters”, will take many time and attention from the student. To really master the Chinese language, you have to lay a good foundation about the Chinese character and each character needs to be studied and internalized through rote memorization and constant reading and writing over a long period of time.
Additionally, you have to work hard to pronounce properly. Chinese is a “tonal” language, meaning that changing the shape of one’s voice over a single syllable can actually generate multiple words with multiple meanings. This feature is so different from the European language family and that’s also part of the reason why learning the Chinese language could be challenging for most the non-Chinese speaker.
However, learning Chinese can get easy for the Chinese language boasts one of the easiest grammars in the world. The Chinese sentence structure largely mirrors that of English (subject + verb + object). There is no tense transformation in verbs or no conjugations neither. There is no gender, no plural nouns, so the language is actually much easier than those of any Western language.
Tip 2: Choosing the Mandarin Chinese over Cantonese.
There are dozens of regional and local spoken Chinese dialects. These dialects backgrounds have been developed over the long period of China’s classical history when transportation was rudimentary and most people lived and died within a small radius of their birthplaces. If you have ever met immigrated Chinese people out of China, you would find that the two most common spoken dialects among them are Mandarin and Cantonese.
For non-Chinese seeking to learn the language, Mandarin is a clear choice. As the official language of politics, education, and media in China, Mandarin, the predominant dialect in Northern China, is also one of the four official languages of Singapore. The word “Mandarin” in Chinese is related to the term “common language”. This term is indicative of the broad reach which competency in Mandarin can afford a speaker. Fortunately, Mandarin is also the easiest of all the Chinese dialects to learn for the Chinese language learner. The “tonal” structure of the Mandarin is much simpler than that of Cantonese and most other dialects.
Tip 3: Finding a non-English speaking language partner who is learning Chinese as well.
People learning Chinese who aren’t native English speakers are great language partners for the following two reasons:
– You may feel less embarrassed making mistakes with them.
– It is less likely for you to fall back on English communication.
Swapping English for Chinese as part of a language exchange with locals is fine – but with other non-English speaking classmates or friends, Chinese should be the only common language for you, so you can speak it all the time. This kind of practice can happen naturally during your daily communication and activities.
Tip 4: Practice speaking in front of a mirror.
Speaking in front of a mirror and seeing how your mouth forms Chinese words can help with building up your confidence physically about actually speaking this foreign language. On the reflection, you will have a strong grasp of the vocabulary, pronunciation and tones. You can also relax your facial muscles by watching yourself. When you realize you don’t look like a fool, fluency will start to come naturally.
Tip 5: Invest time and money in an intensive one-on-one Chinese language program.
This is applicable to most languages; One-on-one Chinese classes can lay a solid foundation for your future learning.
As for learning Chinese, the basics are crucial: you must learn the four tones, master the Pinyin and memorize the characters, and grasp other fundamentals such as the stroke order to form the characters. It takes hours of writing, listening, and speaking to master these basics. It doesn’t mean there is no way to learn Chinese easier though, check out HOW TO LEARN CHINESE LANGUAGE EASILY
Tip 6: Take the HSK exam.
What’s HSK? The HSK test is an efficient tool to evaluate your Chinese proficiency after you have been learning Chinese Mandarin for a while. HSK is the abbreviation of Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi ( Chinese: 汉语水平考试; pinyin: Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì) that interpreted as the Chinese proficiency Test. It’s used in China as the standardized examination of Standard Chinese (Chinese Mandarin) language proficiency in fields of daily life, studying and working occasions for non-native speakers such as international students and overseas Chinese.
If you only have a vague plan about your Mandarin learning than this HSK test could be the best goal to push yourself working towards.
Tip 7: Applying multiple sources for studying
There are lots of resources available for Mandarin learners to take advantages from. Apart from attending classes and reading textbooks, look for videos on YouTube/ listen to podcasts / watch Chinese drama or TV shows/practice with native Chinese speakers can make the learning process more fun.
Tip 8: Learn to speak it first before writing and reading
Considering the fact that Chinese characters are very different from English, it could be extremely overwhelming at the beginning stage to learn to write the characters. Therefore I would suggest you focus on your speaking and pronunciations first, but you cannot skip your learning with writing and reading in the next stage. Only by learning these two crucial contents of the Chinese language, you can go further with your future learning.
Tip 9: Setting practical goals and taking your study plan seriously
Learning the Chinese language requires a high level of commitment and perseverance. It means, you have to do some research and set a goal for your comprehensive learning plan. If you still seek a tutor, merely looking for a native speaker of Chinese. Only by study with a professional native speaker, you will have the best real-time instruction.
After setting the goals and making the plan, all you have to do is to stick with it and insist on practising it regularly.
Tip 10: Stay positive and motivated
As we mentioned in the first part, learning a new language is a long process and it is not easy. At times it might feel so endless – take a break from studying Chinese whenever you need to.
One thing you should bear in mind while learning Chinese is that identify your motivation for this learning. Are you learning to improve your employability or you simply have a passion for Chinese culture? Using this motivation mostly to encourage yourself to go through the toughest times of learning.
There is a famous Chinese saying that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In reality, it will never take a “thousand miles” travel from you to learn Chinese but it is good timing for you to launch your first step out now.