How To Learn Mandarin Chinese

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How To Learn Mandarin Chinese – Among the popular languages, Mandarin Chinese is one of the most difficult languages ​​for Westerners to learn, and very difficult to attain a high level of proficiency. Learning Spanish is relatively easy for English speakers because the two languages ​​are so close that there are many similarities in terms of grammar, vocabulary and even culture. This means that English speakers who are learning Spanish, for example, have a significant advantage. However, the situation is different when learning Chinese. Chinese grammar, vocabulary, syntax and logic are not English. Many common language learning strategies cannot be used with Chinese, making it difficult for even the most experienced language learners.

I’m not saying I’ve discovered the key to learning Chinese at a high level of efficiency, but after studying for almost 12 years and working as a Chinese translator for the past 4 years, I think I’ve discovered some general guidelines through trial and error. error, hope this saves you some time.

How To Learn Mandarin Chinese

How To Learn Mandarin Chinese

It is difficult to go into detail about what makes the Chinese so difficult, but in short, the four pillars of the Chinese difficulty are:

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The four skills are best used together, but if for some reason you have to choose between them, you can follow the sequence above.

It may be a little counterintuitive, but the most important factor in learning Chinese is not talent, environment or resources, but motivation. Proper and sustained motivation is perhaps one of the most important factors in learning and achieving anything, but this is especially true of learning Chinese. This is because not only the perfect result, but any result takes too much time and you cannot expect to achieve fluency in a language in months or even years. Rather than speaking quickly, learning to speak Chinese clearly, correctly and cleanly takes a lot of patience and dedication, and without proper and sustained motivation, you will quickly lose your energy. So it’s a good idea to have a healthy mix of reasons for wanting to learn Chinese to keep you motivated in the long run. Also, define your goals in advance, set expectations based on them, and prepare yourself mentally to learn to take the long way to mastery and the medium way to acceptable results.

I don’t think there are any good Chinese textbooks or online lessons, but if I could recommend one, it would be ChinesePod. I’m not affiliated with ChinaPod, I just used their site when I first started learning Chinese and it helped me a lot to understand the spoken language. Chinapod has many listening materials suitable for all skill levels. A very important step, understanding the spoken language, in my opinion, Chinapod is a benefit, can be done through extensive and intensive listening. Starting with absolute beginner material, analyze verbatim what is said to train your ears to a) recognize unfamiliar sounds and b) understand their meaning. Practice listening repeatedly and repeatedly until you understand the recording perfectly, at which point you should move on to the next level and eventually move on to the next level. It’s tedious and repetitive work, but in my case it’s been more efficient than constantly switching to new material.

A common pitfall encountered by Chinese students is to visualize the notes as diagrams, where the teacher tells the students that the first note is a straight line, the second note is a rising line, and so on. , but it seems to me that this is an error. To understand how pitch works, it’s important to think of it as a sound rather than a line or image. This is because learning melodies as images creates very complex detours in your brain between the audio and visual parts of your brain, causing information overload. I think this is one of the main reasons why foreigners either don’t learn Chinese at all or don’t learn it at a high level quickly and efficiently. I wrote a full article about it if you want to read more (

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This is great because almost all Chinese courses and teachers teach pitch using the pitch scheme, and if you’re not ready to change your approach, don’t do it. However, keep this information in mind and try it if you struggle with the language. Also, tone is important, but not as important in the early stages of learning as others have suggested. It may also seem unusual, but over-emphasizing tone in the first place is not only a waste of time, but also self-defeating and demotivating. Focusing on intonation and constantly backtracking and self-correcting while speaking undermines fluency, which is the essence of rapid learning. Also, constantly checking your pronunciation is a really bad habit that will completely destroy your thinking. For this reason, I think it is advisable to sharpen pitch at the next stage of learning. For those who say that no one understands you if you don’t pronounce the tone correctly, or that tone is the essence of Chinese, ask them if they understand Chinese speakers who speak Mandarin. The reason I say this is because Cantonese speakers are notorious for mispronouncing Mandarin tones, and while they sound funny to our ears, they’re completely understandable. This is because they use Chinese sentence structure and patterns very well. Ignoring tone and focusing on sentence structure is definitely a trade-off, but I think it’s a good decision because, as I’ve already mentioned, focusing too much on tone can cause problems and eventually lead to language learning failure. a term. run.

In terms of language structure, although Chinese does not have verb conjugations and articles like German or Italian, it has very irregular syntax and wording that, for lack of better terms, requires experience and a lot of practice. master do it to dominate. In other words, no book will teach you how to speak Chinese properly, you have to learn it yourself, either by physically experiencing every possible sentence or thing you want to say in the real world, or by doing. more conversation and intensive listening to original content.

A common misconception about Chinese is that the character makes the language difficult, but the only requirement for learning the character is time and dedication, where talent is irrelevant. Also, as mentioned above, learning characters is impossible in the early stages of the learning process, because memorizing the sounds, tones, pinyin and symbols for each syllable in Chinese is information overload, which only hurts the learning process. If you’re interested in Chinese characters like most of us, learning them would certainly be a nice addition to your learning process, but if you don’t want to learn them, I think that’s fine, because as a student you can use Pinyin (Romanization System) for Mandarin. In fact, as a beginner, I would encourage you to write new words and phrases, but you don’t want to get too confused with pinyin or Chinese characters, and you don’t want to switch to them when you’re comfortable with Chinese sounds. the language. However, it may once again change another paradigm. When it comes to whether to learn simplified or traditional Chinese characters, a general rule of thumb is that if you’re going to mainland China, you should only learn simplified characters.

How To Learn Mandarin Chinese

Finally, when learning and practicing a language, it’s important to stay interested and see results. This is the first question most people ask about the Chinese. And it makes sense. Before starting anything, you want to know what the end goal is and how long it will take to achieve it. In addition, most people hear that Chinese is difficult and worry that it will take ten years to learn it!

How To Learn Mandarin Chinese: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

Ask any non-native speaker if they are fluent in another language, and they’ll probably answer all of them

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