How to improve Chinese speaking and listening skills?
How to learn Chinese? We think this is an important and often overlooked question. Having started Chinese language learning from scratch later in life… it is very difficult to even understand what “good Chinese” or “correct Chinese” sounds like. A lot of people who decide to learn Chinese at University have language courses with several second generation Chinese, who can’t speak the language but had been brought up listening to it from their parents. The difference in tones, pronunciation, and understand was night and day.
So that’s our two cents on why it’s so important getting used to listening to the language (something which will take many hours). As for how… should be based on a few different criteria 1.) Standard Chinese, 2.) Level Appropriate, 3.) Good Medium, and 4.) Interesting/relevant.
1.) Standard Chinese
We are guessing you’re studying Mandarin and want to be understood by the majority of Chinese speakers. So, this first criteria is just to make sure you’re learning the type of Chinese language you want to. We gathered experiences of people from the USA, who studied abroad in Sichuan, Harbin, and elsewhere. While they all got good at Chinese, the accents varied wildly. And if your goal is to be understood in standard Mandarin, you don’t want to have to re-learn an already difficult language.
2.) Level Appropriate
Language teacher give you the advice “If there’s more than 5 words on a page that you don’t understand, try an easier book.” While you want to be learning new vocabulary, you don’t want to be in over your head. Pick from the pool of resources available at your level. For example: You are already in a country where Chinese is one of the local languages and you want to learn some basic daily vocabulary? Go to the next book store and take a look at department for children’s books. Seems weird to you? A lot of these books might fit to your language level quite well and include a lot of helpful vocabulary with easy explanations.
TutorMandarin Tipp: Books of Breeze.
3.) Good Medium
Listening can be done with podcasts, youtube channels, audiobooks, television shows, radio programs etc. Depending on your study habits and preference, maybe you’d like podcasts while you run or commute on the train. Otherwise, you may prefer to study at home and want the youtube visual behind it as you watch.
Check out Melnyks. This website offers 57 podcasts for free and 219 additionally.
Last but not least is to make sure it’s interesting to you. A lot of beginner stuff can be similar (which is fine!) but as you advance up you can curate and cater the content to your preferences. This will help to keep you engaged and fuel the fire for learning.
So you’ve gone through this list and think you want Standard Mandarin, Beginner, Youtube Videos (maybe about business?). No problem. We post weekly youtube videos in the TutorMandarin app and at our blog to give you fresh things to listen to. Our App is coming out soon. We use a variety of youtube Channels like TMD Shanghai, China Hunan TV Official, DaShan, Miss Panda Chinese, and more. Furthermore, we will extract all important vocabs and give you an overview about these (Chinese character, Pinyin and English translation).
Do you have any other good advices? Give us some feedback – Thanks in advance!