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How to Learn Chinese: Top 10 Keats Tips

To help Mandarin learners avoid some mistakes on their learning journey, let them focus on the steps that really made a difference. After reading today’s post, I hope you can get some inspiration and join the Keats Mandarin community soon!

Tip 1: The Chinese language may look difficult at the beginning stage, but it gets easier to learn at the time.

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 much time and attention from the student. To really master the Chinese language, you have to lay a good foundation for the Chinese character. Each character needs to be studied and internalized through rote memorization and constant reading and writing over a long period. We suggest six ways to learn Chinese characters well.

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, which is also why learning the Chinese language could be challenging for most non-Chinese speakers.

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 much easier than 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. Most people lived and died within a small radius of their birthplaces. If you have ever met immigrated Chinese people out of China, you will 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 that competency in Mandarin can afford a speaker. Fortunately, Mandarin is also the easiest Chinese dialect to learn for the Chinese language learner. The “tonal” structure of 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 build up confidence in speaking this foreign language. On 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 applies 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 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 daily life, studying, and working occasions for non-native speakers such as international students and overseas Chinese. In 2021 May, the New HSK (HSK 3.0) was released. We have prepared a complete NEW HSK Vocabulary List for HSK 1

If you only have a vague plan about your Mandarin learning, then this HSK test could be the best goal to push yourself to work towards. The HSK Test Preparation Course is the pathway that can help you pass the test. 

Tip 7: Applying multiple sources for studying

There are lots of resources available for Mandarin learners to take advantage of. Apart from attending classes and reading textbooks, look for videos on YouTube/ listen to podcasts / watch Chinese dramas 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

Because Chinese characters are very different from English, it could be extremely overwhelming to learn to write the characters at the beginning stage. Therefore, I suggest focusing on speaking and pronunciation first, but you cannot skip your writing and read in the next stage. Only by learning these two crucial contents of the Chinese language can you 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 will you have the best real-time instruction.

After setting the goals and making the plan, all you have to do is stick with it and insist on practicing 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 do you simply have a passion for Chinese culture? Using this motivation mostly to encourage yourself to go through the toughest times of learning.

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.

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Matteo | Italy
Small Group Chinese Class

I really enjoy studying Chinese in Kunming at Keats. The teachers are great and my classmates are awesome. It is an unforgettable experience for me. I also got the chance to travel to other places in Yunnan. Those places are amazing and you definitely need to visit these places when you study Chinese in China at Keats.

Kristen | Canada
Small Group Chinese Class

I have really enjoyed the Chinese course in China at Keats and meeting the teachers here and the students. We have a lot of fun in class. It is a really great school to learn with good teaching methods and a really good textbook, examples and games, and everything.

Pakorn | Thailand
Small Group Chinese Class

It is very convenient to come to Kunming from Thailand. I really like my Chinese class and my Chinese improved a lot in a few months. There are many benefits of learning Chinese. The best thing I like about Keats is that it is in Kunming, a city with eternal spring. There is so much to see in Kunming and you will love this city after you come.

Josh | USA
Small Group Chinese Class

I really had a wonderful experience at the school. The teachers are very very friendly. In my class, we practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing. We play games and other fun activities. We have trips around town. The staff at Keats is phenomenal. My teacher is one of the best teachers I have ever had in my educational experience. She comes in with a smile every day.

David | Australia
Intensive One-on-One Chinese Classes

It has been notable because I have met a lot of people who I met first time last year like me to come back to Keats this year. The teaching has been fantastic. The teachers carefully prepare each lesson. I think this one-on-one approach is really a great way to rapidly increase your level of Chinese and increase your confidence and fluency with the language.

Judith | USA
Intensive One-on-One Chinese Classes

Listening and speaking in the classroom every day has improved my communication skills. After three weeks, my new words and sentences became more and more natural and fluent. Now I am used to thinking in Chinese, and I understand better what other people say, to be able to have real conversations with other people.

Dr. Med. Beatrice | Austria
Intensive One-on-One Chinese Classes

I decided to learn Chinese in Kunming because I like smaller cities and I like the climate here. We had four hours a day study here and my dear teacher taught me very much and never lost her patience with me. It was a really wonderful experience to be here and I recommend Keats school and the teachers here to everyone who likes to learn Chinese in China.

Rients | Netherlands
Small Group Chinese Class

Kunming is a great place to learn Chinese in China because not many Chinese on the street speak English. Keats has been a great school for me and a lot of other foreigners who studied in China recommended it to me. I think they are all right. The study method here is really structured. They make learning Chinese really easy. There are also a lot of cultural and natural places to visit.

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