How to learn Chinese language with minimum effort?
At first glance, Chinese language learning seems mission impossible for foreigners. But nothing is impossible because the word itself is “I’m possible!”
It is true that Chinese characters are unique and totally different from other western languages that you have learned before. But the Chinese language also has its own merits. Would you believe if I say it will take about one and a half year for you to be able to communicate in basic Chinese? I’m going to use my own learning experience to help you learn Chinese in the most painless and effortless way.
So, if you are interested, keep reading.
Self-studying Chinese language
When you first decided to learn Mandarin, like other Chinese learners, you will google for the best way to learn Mandarin. That’s when a headache begins. There are lots of different ways and methods even lots of ads from different schools. Some also suggest to learn it by yourself. Don’t worry, you are not alone!
I’ve already done every single step by myself. The beginning of my learning Chinese journey didn’t go smoothly. I chose to self-study with whatever resources I could find online. It didn’t go as I planned, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t learn anything useful. Just that everything you learn will be scattered and disorganized. In fact, most of my time goes into doing research and deciding what should I learn the next day.
This “self-study” method really drives me crazy. It is really true that “without a solid foundation, you’ll have trouble creating anything of value.” I wouldn’t recommend this learning method to those who have time constraints.
Going to Mandarin classes
However, I didn’t give up. If one method doesn’t work, I would just change the path. There’s no need to change the goals. I registered into one of the popular local Mandarin teaching tuitions. The result was a lot better than studying alone like a headless chicken. There’s a solid course outline so that I don’t need to worry about the course structure. What’s more exciting, I can get to mingle with fellow students.
However, soon I faced another challenge. As my teacher is not a native Chinese speaker, her pronunciation seems odd. It seems to me that the lessons would take long for learning progress. I would say myself a fast learner and have already learned some basic vocabulary; besides, I can also tell if the accent is right with my listening skills. (Thanks to all those painful self-study processes.) The truth is, the classes I took couldn’t reach my progressing goals because the teacher had to wait for other students.
I couldn’t skip the current level to the higher class either because I don’t have the necessary foundation (again, the cons of the self-studying). Another challenge was the efficiency of asking the teacher about my questions. Although the class has only 20 students, it is not easy to grab the time to ask a question during the class hour. Despite the fact that I did stay late after class for asking my questions, my teacher could only give us 15 minutes at most due to her next session. Undoubtedly, this was also not the right method for me.
Getting a private Chinese tutor to learn Chinese language
So what did I do next? Of course, google for another method! This time, I targeted the tutors who are native speakers. From my experiences, the native tutors are quite affordable in Chinese speaking countries. However, they can be pricey in foreign countries. At that time, I was just a student with a limited budget. Therefore, I just chose to learn Chinese online with a native private tutor which is very affordable. And the course structure is also designed specifically for my needs. As my tutor was a native speaker, I didn’t need to worry about her pronunciation. Another advantage was that it’s very time efficient.
I don’t need to actually go the classroom to have a session. I can start the lessons anywhere and anytime I want as long as I have the internet and my phone. It really saved me a lot of time. And as my tutor can speak English fluently too, I can communicate with her really well. I asked all the questions not just the academic related ones but also her cultures. I became a good friend with my tutor, she even invited me to visit her country, which I did.
Learning Mandarin online with a native tutor is by far my most favorite and successful method for learning Chinese. I highly recommend this method if you’re determined to learn Chinese. But I won’t say you will get the tutor that suits you straight away. I was very lucky to have my tutor who always knew my needs and goals. Read my previous blog about how to choose the right tutor if you want to know my tutor selection checklist.
Practice makes perfect in Chinese
Your teacher can teach you how to learn Chinese language. However, you need to practice more if you want to master in Chinese. You should try to involve Chinese language learning in your everyday life.
But that doesn’t mean you have to read the Chinese textbooks the whole day. There are a lot of effortless ways to include Chinese learning in your daily life. Below are a few methods that I like to use while I was studying Chinese.
To Improve Chinese listening skills
My favorite method to learn Chinese language is listening to Chinese podcasts and Chinese music. Music is a great tool in helping you learn a new language. Besides, this won’t disturb you on your daily schedule. You can listen anywhere and anytime while you’re doing other things.
Listening to Chinese daily will help you with both Chinese listening and speaking skills. After a while, you will know how it sounds like in standard tones and accents. Of course, you need to learn the basic of the pinyin tones first in order to recognize the differences in the first place. Listening to music regularly will also help you improve your Chinese vocabulary and some common phrases.
Once you become more advanced in your listening skill, you can even try to listen to the news. This way you can improve both your listening skill and your knowledge on trending Chinese news.
Learn Chinese Language through watching TV
If you love Korean dramas, you should give it a try to Chinese and Taiwanese dramas as well. This is indeed a fun way to incorporate Chinese into your daily life.
You can start by watching a drama with English subtitles if you are beginners. Once you become more advanced, you should watch with Chinese subtitles. This will help you improve your reading skill and vocabularies as well. And the best thing is you don’t need to put a lot of effort to watch a movie.
Reading Chinese comics and stories
Another fun way to learn Chinese daily is reading. If you love reading, I bet you wouldn’t mind reading Chinese comics and short stories. Don’t try to read the whole book or newspaper while you in a beginner level. It’ll really burn you out. You should slowly develop your vocabulary and your Chinese reading skill and then read something more difficult afterward.If you don’t know what to read, you can ask recommendation from your tutors. They will know which book to recommend according to your level.
And another important thing to remember is that you don’t need to understand each and every word. It is ok to skip a few words if you can guess the meaning in the whole sentence. By doing so, reading in Chinese will become more enjoyable and less painful.
practice speaking with a native person
All the methods above are just indoor activities. Yet if you want to improve further your speaking skills, you should go out and join some Chinese clubs to practice your speaking with others. If finding Chinese societies is not an option for you, you can always practice speaking Chinese with your tutor during the lessons. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes during your lessons. Your tutor will correct you, only then will your speaking ability improve; And only then will you become a fluent and confident Chinese speaker.
These are just some of the tips that I’ve learned during my Chinese learning journey. Learning Chinese is really fun and easy. You just need to meet the right mentor and the right method. After that, you just need to practice daily by including Chinese in your daily lifestyle. I hope my sharing of my learning experiences helps, and don’t forget to stay tuned with TutorMandarin where you can find rich content about Chinese!