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Best ways to learn Chinese 2021 Guide for Beginners


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Congratulations! A wonderful world window is quietly opening for you. In the new year of 2021, you can finally start to study Mandarin Chinese seriously, easily.

There are many reasons why people want to learn another language. Choosing Chinese as the extra language opens up a world of rich culture stretching back more than 3,000 years, the oldest surviving one in the world. Plus, with such easy communication with modern China and so many Chinese travelling and doing business outside of China, the experience of learning Mandarin Chinese is becoming a new trend.

As a beginner, you must have read a lot of articles on how to learn Mandarin Chinese quickly, and you may still wish to discover more tips. So, are there any tricks?

Yes and no. Because there is no shortcut to success, there is no gain if there is no effort. But if the learning method is right, then you are halfway there. You will find that learning Chinese is not as difficult as you think, and it gets more and more interesting.

So here are 8 learning Mandarin Chinese tips:

1 - Learn basic mandarin in daily life 

Young people waking up stairs

A good way to learn Chinese fast is to completely immerse yourself in the Chinese environment. Even if you have no plans to go to China, you can create your own environment. For example, watching Chinese movies, cartoons, listening to Chinese songs, reading Chinese newspapers, going to Chinese supermarkets, restaurants, etc. You can use a small piece of paper to help memorise the Chinese name of the item, and try to read it out repeatedly every day. You will find that your Chinese vocabulary is increasing rapidly.

2 - Speaking Chinese speaking Chinese

Yoing woman with megaphone

Speaking is the key to learning a language, especially Chinese. Practising is important, you don't need to hesitate thinking how to speak Chinese ,just speak out, find a way to talk with others in Chinese. You can never speak Chinese fluently if you don’t practice. As we know, Chinese is a tonal language. Different tones and moods may represent different meanings. By practising with others under the right guidance, you find out quickly whether you are right or not, correct your mistakes and become fluent quickly.

3 - Study Chinese 1-on-1

teacher ab=nd ballet student doing stretches

You can learn Chinese by yourself, and there are many free resources online. However, in the absence of guidance and help, many people often give up when encountering difficulties. If you plan to learn Chinese seriously and successfully, taking a Mandarin Chinese course with 1:1 private lessons is the most effective way to learn Chinese.

Nowadays, learning Chinese does not mean having to fly to China or go to school, online learning is simple and very effective, you can connect with some of the best teachers in China via video conferencing tools, easily and conveniently. With a 1:1 individual Mandarin Chinese course ,you can learn at your own pace, the teacher will continually review your progress. Any problem areas you have such as pronunciation, comprehension and recognition of important Chinese characters can be spotted quickly and corrected. This way, you can learn Chinese effectively and as fast as you wish, the more lessons you take in a day or a week, the quicker you can learn. Or you can go slowly, and enjoy getting a deeper understanding of the language and culture. The choice is yours.

4 - Get your head around Chinese tones

young woman playing the violin

Chinese is a tonal language,and this often gives beginners the most headache. There are four main sounds or tones in Chinese, indicated in pinyin with accents over a vowel, such as "mā má mǎ mà", and there is also a neutral, soft tone "ma", each different pronounciation of apparently the same word in pinyin is a different word and meaning. And of course if you look at the Chinese character, the "real" word, they are usually unique for each pronounciation. So, you want others to understand your Chinese language? Accurate tonal pronunciation is the foundation, and a lot of practice at listening and reading is essential. From now on, get your head around Chinese tones, open your mouth and make a wonderful tone, just like a Chinese native speaker!

5 - Devoting time to memorising Chinese characters

laptop and notebook

The number of Chinese characters is huge, and even the most commonly used Chinese characters are about 3,000. But remember, these are all words, nouns, verbs etc., so like other languages the number is large. Memorising Chinese characters is a great challenge for Chinese beginners. From the beginning, it is necessary to form the habit of memorising the new words learned in every class, so that you can't forget it while learning it, the vocabulary will become richer and the Chinese language will become more and more fluent. But it doesn't mean you have to memorise by rote, this will only make you tired quickly of learning Chinese. So how to remember so many Chinese characters? There are many different ways, here are two of them:

For example learning (mù, tree) you can memorise with the words for similar things, e.g. (lín, woods), (sēn, forest), (zhī, branch),杆 (gān, pole),柱 (zhù, column),树 (shù, tree), (sōng, pine (tree)) and so on.

You can also memorise according to the meaning. For example, (yòu, also, again), twice

is (shūang, once again or pair). Or (rēn, person), double is (cōng, follow). Or (tían, field), grass growing in the field is (miáo, seedling). And so on …

Another good way, but longer, is to learn to write the characters with the separate strokes. You may never be good enough to write Chinese easily, but the process of writing will help you to understand and memorise each character. And then you'll be able to use the proper Chinese keyboard on your computer!

6 - Make friends with Chinese people

Two asian women talking

Talking to native Chinese speakers for a few minutes is better than learning by rote for a few hours. Always try to use and learn while using, remember that you are learning Chinese and not a Chinese book. Join a Chinese study group! It is more fun to study with people with the same interests, and it can also develop friendships and make life more exciting.

7 - Learn conversational Chinese

Two people conversing in Chinese

Always remember that you are learning a language, not just a Chinese book. Trying to use your sentences from books to talk to others in real life is to really learn this new language. Practising and learning Chinese through conversation can enable you to master when and where to use words and phrases you have learnt, quickly, correctly and memorise them properly. Check out the most common conversational Chinese phrases and sentences here.

There are also many Chinese movies and TV dramas on Netflix, which are a good way to learn Chinese conversation in various situations.

8 - Learn to read Chinese

Young woman relaxing and reading

Learn to read Chinese. Even if you are a beginner, you can find the right books. Through reading, it can deepen the understanding of Chinese characters and words and quickly improve the level of Chinese.

You can start with books in pinyin, use pinyin to spell new words and phrases, so as to understand the whole sentence, and then memorise these words through the meaning of the whole sentence.

You'd better read phonetically, as we know, different tones in Chinese may represent different Chinese characters and meanings. Accurate pronunciation and tone can help you speak fluently and avoid jokes and embarrassment.

You can even start with children's books. Most children's books have Chinese characters with pinyin, pictures and short sentences. High vocabulary repetition rates, and a storyline that is simple and easy to understand, make these good learning tools early in your Chinese studies.

You may also want to know:

How Hard Is It To Learn Mandarin Chinese?

The reason why Chinese is often called "difficult" is mostly because of the need to master the tones and the recognition and writing of Chinese characters. As long as you lay a good foundation in pinyin and practice speaking and reading more, the pronunciation of Chinese is not as difficult as imagined, and there are many similarities between Chinese and English grammar. When you learn to master the laws and understand their cultural connotations, you will become more and more fascinated by Chinese characters.

How Long To Learn Chinese?

It depends on your learning goal, how much study time every day or week you can allocate, how much you put your mind to it. Just like anything else in fact! You can learn some of the most common Chinese words or phrases in an hour or two but it may take a few weeks or a few months to pass HSK1, which means you should know about 150 characters and have some basic conversation in Chinese, for example conversations about time, weather and shopping. The more you study, the more you learn.

How To Become Fluent In Chinese?

Speak, speak, speak. Speaking is the key to learning a language. Please don't be shy and don't be frightened to take any chance to speak in Chinese. Some 1:1 private courses also have a free group practice with students at a similar level as you, with a teacher to guide. This is one of the best options.

How To Learn Mandarin By Yourself?

Learning Chinese in class is only a part of learning, and there are opportunities to learn Chinese everywhere in life. For example:

If you do all of the above, you will find that your Chinese vocabulary will increase rapidly, so that you can speak complete sentences quickly and become more fluent.

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