Learning Chinese doesn’t need to be difficult. The good news is that there are many tools and tips that you can use to speed up the learning process.
In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 ways to kickstart your Mandarin journey, offering a diverse range of tools and tricks you can utilize to make your Chinese learning journey enjoyable and painless, based on my own personal experience.
If you’re already an advanced learner, this article may help you in developing your Chinese fluency
1. Follow a Structure
When it comes to language learning I often think about the road that I would recommend people to take and I compare it to driving a car. If you have a sat-nav, you’re likely to get to your destination much faster than if you just try to figure it out as you go along. Studying Chinese is exactly the same, so I’d recommend any new beginner to pick a structured learning method if they’re interested in learning beyond a few basic phrases.
The benefit of these structured approaches to learning is that they allow you to follow the path that an expert has set out, often saving time in the long run. It also allows you to measure progress along the way, so you can see the improvements you’re making.
I’d recommend trying a few out and finding which one fits you. There are a number of different structures you can pick depending on what your goals are. For example, the HSK exams are great if you love the academic side of language learning, whereas Ninchanese is excellent if you enjoy a well-structured, gamified approach to language learning.
2. Have Fun
This is perhaps one of the most underrated tips I have seen in the language-learning community, have fun!
The biggest tip is to find what aspect of the Chinese language you enjoy and try to immerse yourself in that area. For me personally, I love reading, so reading Chinese novels is my preferred way of practicing my reading skills. If you’re interested in films or TV series, then watching shows may be the best way for you to practice your skills. There may be a lot of other possible motivations for you, for example learning to cook Chinese food, eating at Chinese restaurants, learning about the history
or culture, chatting with people, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Just make sure you don’t rely on a textbook, as it’s a perfect method to get bored. Fun and interactive methods will go a long way over the course of your study to keep you interested, engaged, and motivated to keep going.
3. Join the Community
There are a lot of Chinese language learners out there and there are some excellent platforms out there for you to connect with them. The benefit of this is being able to learn from the experience of others to make your learning journey as smooth as possible. I recommend checking out this Chinese learning blog as it contains a lot of useful information about learning Chinese and gives a personal
View on the reality of learning Chinese
Connecting with other learners as well as language learning partners can be a great motivation, as well as sharing resources, hints, and tips for the most effective ways to learn Chinese.
You can also check out Chinese-forums.com as a great place to make friends and learn more about learning Chinese.
4. Use the Resources Available
There are a lot of really good resources available for Chinese learners in the modern world. The best advice I can give is not to rely on just a single tool or resource.
My experience as a Chinese learner is that all the tools are effective ways to learn, but never cover the whole spectrum of what you need to learn the Chinese language effectively. So the best solution is to utilize multiple different tools to take advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of them. For example, Pleco is a wonderful app for helping you with learning Chinese
characters and practicing reading, but it won’t help you with developing your speaking skills.
There are some platforms that over a pretty comprehensive coverage of all the major skills you will need, Ninchanese being one of them.
5. Pick a Goal, Find your Motivation
Relating to point 1 and point 2 is to pick your goal based on what you are interested in and what will motivate you to study. It will also help you to direct your learning in a way that suits you.
You should study all aspects of the language to get the full benefit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t focus more on one aspect that you particularly enjoy. When you build your study plan, think about what is motivating you to learn to speak Chinese. Many things might motivate you, for example, if you’re planning a trip to China, you might want to focus your study on speaking and listening, and focusing your learning on specific areas that you will find useful.
Ninchanese has an excellent selection of different lessons targeted at these which I particularly like. For example, they have a course dedicated to the Chinese language relevant to video games as well as many other interesting areas. If you have a particular area of interest, learning the words for that area and using them often is a great idea.
Check out this blog post if you’re interested in learning more about Chinese graphic novels