If you want to learn a new language, Chinese is one of the best to pursue. It’s spoken by well over 1 billion people and is one of the most important trade languages in the world. On top of that, it can bolster your career and offer the opportunity to meet new people the next time you visit mainland China!
But learning Chinese can be tricky, especially if you don’t have experience learning another language. Today, let’s explore six effective tips to learn Chinese you can use starting today.
1. Understand the Basics of Chinese (and What You Want to Learn)
If you want to learn Chinese, you’ll need to first grasp the basics of this language. For example, there are differences between both traditional and simplified Chinese characters (the latter of which are more practical and convenient for everyday writing and use).
You’ll also need to decide:
- Which of the two writing styles you want to learn
- Whether you want to dive into the history of Chinese characters
- What Chinese dialect you want to learn
That last note is particularly important. Generally, you should learn either Mandarin or Cantonese. You should not learn both at once because they are different enough that doing so can be overly confusing or complex.
Mandarin is a great language to learn if you want to be able to speak Chinese fluently in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and in certain areas of Singapore. However, Cantonese Chinese is mostly spoken by Chinese Americans or communities of Chinese people elsewhere around the world.
Between the two, Mandarin is usually a little easier than Cantonese since there are fewer tones for you to memorize and master. Ask and answer these questions before proceeding, and you’ll learn Chinese more consistently and successfully.
2. Stick to a Schedule
Next, you can learn Chinese effectively if you stick to a learning schedule no matter what. Carve out between a half hour and an hour of time each day and practice your Chinese speaking, reading, and writing at the exact same time.
Before you know it, your brain will become used to this habit and you’ll find that you retain information more capably than you did before. Sticking to a schedule is important for learning any new skill or hobby, of course, which is why it works for something complex like learning Chinese.
3. Memorize the Characters
Give yourself plenty of time and memorize all the characters in the Chinese language. You can use flashcards for this or other rote memorization tools. By memorizing the characters and repeating them to yourself every day, you’ll learn this language very fast (because you’ll be able to read a Chinese script much more easily).
As soon as you can read Chinese, you’ll be able to speak and listen to it more fluently in no time.
4. Use a Personalized Learning Program
You may also consider using a personalized Chinese learning program. These online programs offer individualized, one-on-one instruction between you and a certified teacher. Personalized learning programs are great since they can account for your learning style or for how best you absorb language materials.
LingoAce is a great example of a quality Chinese learning program for children ages 3-15. Combine this with regular practice and the other tips on this list and you’ll learn Chinese quite efficiently and quickly!
5. Consume Chinese Media
Immersing yourself in a language is a great way to learn it quickly. To that end, try to consume as much Chinese media as possible, including:
- Chinese books and audiobooks, especially if you have a lot of free time while on the road
- Chinese TV shows and movies. Watch them with the subtitles at first, then turn the subtitles off once you become fluent enough
- Chinese music and poems
The more Chinese media you consume, the more you’ll expose yourself to the language and the cultural contexts that influence when you should or should not use certain words. Put another way, it’s important to consume Chinese media so you know how to speak Chinese correctly in a practical sense, not just in a technical sense. Then you’ll be able to carry a conversation with a native Chinese speaker!
6. Try to Speak Chinese Every Day
Lastly, don’t forget to try to speak Chinese every day whenever possible. The more you speak this language, the better equipped you’ll be to respond when someone speaks to you. Plus, practice just makes perfect in general. If you speak Chinese every day, your brain will be forced to adapt and learn it more quickly!
As you can see, there are lots of ways to learn Chinese, and plenty of tips and tricks to help maximize your progress. Try each of these six strategies today—in a matter of months, you’ll speak excellent Chinese and be able to navigate through a Chinese-language speaking country without difficulty.
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