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How to Start of Learning Mandarin Chinese

By Jon, published on 21/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Chinese > Getting Started Learning Mandarin
Contents
  • Mandarin Chinese, the World’s #1 Language
  • Mandarin Chinese at a Glance
  • Using Immersion in Chinese to Improve Your Comprehension
  • Sites for Learning Mandarin Chinese

China is becoming more and more attractive to the West and to Americans and Europeans, in particular. It’s also becoming increasingly common for students from good universities to learn Chinese and participate in exchange programmes in China.

Why is this the case? Why should you learn Chinese? And why should take Chinese lessons?

There are a few reasons why these young people are doing it:

  1. To learn more about China and Chinese culture

  2. To make their CV more attractive by adding a foreign language to it

  3. To gain invaluable business skills

  4. To keep up with the international business by learning one of its most important languages

There are plenty of reasons why people in the West have deciding to learn Mandarin Chinese, the standardised form of Chinese which is also the most spoken language in the world!

Discover everything you need to know about learning Chinese…

Mandarin Chinese, the World’s #1 Language

Are you tempted to go to China?

What's the most common variety of Chinese? If you decide to take “Chinese” lessons, you’ll probably end up taking Mandarin. (Source: Flickr)

If you’re interested in a career in business, you can’t miss your chance to get involved in this expanding market! You should also consider taking Chinese classes.

By learning Chinese, you’ll learn about:

  • Chinese characters and Chinese writing

  • Chinese art and literature

  • Chinese phonetics and how to speak Chinese properly

There are so many good reason to visit China. That’s probably why over 590,000 British nationals visit mainland China every year, and there are currently around 36,000 British nationals living permanently in China.

It’s worth noting that only around a quarter of Chinese people have studied English and, of those that have, only a quarter of them have mastered the language to a good level. Put simply, you’ll find it difficult to find another person who can speak English well.

This will be really useful if you’re set on learning the world’s most spoken language! As you can see, it’s important that you do.

According to Ecommerce News, ecommerce in the UK grew by 17.8% last year. Ecommerce in China, on the other hand, grew by other 30%.

The fact that China is the world’s second biggest economy is yet another important reason you should learn to speak Chinese. They’re first in terms of exports, though.

If you’ve studied or business engineering as well as Chinese, you’ll have a great chance of landing any number of jobs.

Discover also the influence of Mandarin on other Asian countries…

Mandarin Chinese at a Glance

You’re probably wondering what languages the Chinese speak.

How do you write in Chinese? When you learn Chinese languages, the writing systems will probably cause you the most problems in the beginning. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

As we said before, Mandarin Chinese is a language a lot of employers are looking for. There are a few ways you can learn Mandarin Chinese:

  • Chinese language classes in language centres and institutes.

  • Online classes for learning the basics of Mandarin

  • Mandarin lessons London with a Superprof tutor
  • Language exchanges where you can meet Chinese speakers looking to learn English.

If you want to be able to put Chinese on your CV, though, you’re going to have to master writing, the alphabet, grammar, and vocabulary as well as Chinese culture, philosophy, and traditions.

Here’s some advice on how to learn to speak Mandarin.

Learn the 4 Tones in Mandarin Chinese

Firstly, Mandarin is a tonal language. This means that the pronunciation can completely change the meaning of certain words even if they’re written completely the same.

There are 4 main tones:

  1. The first tone is the high-level tone. The pitch is steady. For example, the word “ma” in the first tone is indicated by a line above the letter “a”: mā.

  2. The second tone is the rising tone. The pitch rises from a low pitch to a medium pitch. This is somewhat similar to the pitch changes in English when you’re asking a question. The second tone would be indicated like this: má.

  3. The third tone is dipping tone. Your voice goes from a medium pitch to a low pitch before rising to a high pitch. It’s indicated as follows: mǎ.

  4. The fourth tone is the falling tone. The pitch goes down quickly and can sound quite abrupt and angry. It appears as follows: mà.

Which is the best language for getting a job? Is Chinese the language of the future? (Source: Kurious)

Find out more about the history of Chinese!

Memorise Basic Mandarin Vocabulary

Just like other languages, the more your repeat the words in Chinese, the more you’ll be able to speak. The first step is to memorise useful Chinese vocabulary. Some useful vocabulary in the beginning would be something like:

  • Times of the day in Chinese: (morning: zǎoshàng, afternoon: xiàwǔ, evening: wǎnshàng)

  • Parts of the body in Chinese: (head: tóu, feet: jiǎo, hands: shǒu)

  • You could also add colours, days, months, weather, etc.

When you hear an English word that you know in Chinese, you should repeat it to yourself, too. Don’t forget to make a vocabulary list, either!

Learn Basic Conversational Expressions in Chinese

Now you know which variant of Chinese you should be learning, let’s get to it!

Once you’re familiar with some basic vocabulary and the pronunciation, you can start moving forward with some basic conversational expressions that Chinese speakers use in everyday life.

Here’s a small list of really useful Chinese expressions you should know:

  • Hello = nǐhǎo, pronounced [ni hao]

  • What’s your name? = nín guì xìng, pronounced [nin gouay shing]

  • Yes = shì, pronounced [shu]

  • No = bú shì, pronounced [bou chi]

  • Thank you = xiè xiè, pronounced [chi chi]

If you want to get good at Chinese, you need to practise every day, listen to Chinese music, watch Chinese TV series and films, and read Chinese literature.

Don’t forget that the more you practice, the better your Chinese will be!

Also learn about Pinyin, China’s phonetic writing system

Using Immersion in Chinese to Improve Your Comprehension

There are several ways to learn Chinese aside from traditional lessons.

For example, if you immerse yourself in the Chinese language, culture, and traditions, you’ll quickly learn more about the language.

Here are some fun ways you can learn Chinese.

Find a Native Chinese Speaker

One of the best ways to improve your level in Chinese is to practice your speaking with a native.

They’ll be able to correct grammatical errors, help you with Chinese pronunciation, and teach you informal uses of the language that you won’t find in your Chinese textbooks.

  • If you have a friend who speaks Mandarin, that’s great! Otherwise you could place an ad online or look for Mandarin Chinese conversation groups near you.

  • If you can’t find anyone who speaks Mandarin near you, try finding someone who you can practise with over Skype. There are people who’d be happy to chat for 15 minutes in Chinese with you if you’d be willing to help them to chat in English for 15 minutes in return.

What are the best ways to learn Chinese? The more interested you are in Chinese history and culture, the more quickly you’ll learn. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Speaking with a native speaker is the best way to improve!

Watch Films and Cartoons in Chinese

Find some Chinese DVDs (with subtitles) and videos online. This is an easy and fun way to train your ear to listening to Chinese.

  • Feel free to pause the video and repeat simple expressions back to yourself. This will also help you to work on your pronunciation and accent!

  • There are also satellite and cable packages that include Chinese-language television where you can watch films, the news, and TV programmes.

Learn also about Mandarin Chinese’s four tones… 

Listen to Chinese Music and Radio

Listening to Chinese music and Chinese radio is a great way to immerse yourself in your language learning.

Even if you don’t understand everything, stick with it! Try to listen out for key words that will help you understand the context of what they’re talking about.

  • Download apps for listening to radio over the internet on your smartphone so that you can listen to Chinese radio wherever you are.

  • Download Chinese podcasts to listen to while exercising or doing your homework, for example.

Don’t forget that you can combine all these tips and tricks in order to get the most out of studying Chinese.

Don’t forget about Pinyin, either.

Sites for Learning Mandarin Chinese

If you want to learn to read, write, and speak Chinese, there are plenty of sites where you can study the basics.

Here are a few sites that should help.

Anki

What do most beginners find difficult when they first start learning Chinese? The characters!

If you’re struggling to memorise all the different Chinese characters, consider using Anki, a flashcard app. While simple to get to grips with, you’ll soon see the level of depth that this service can offer to language learners.

Loecsen.com

This site focuses on teaching. Thanks to images and audio, visitors can learn more about Chinese characters and writing in Chinese.

A great variety of ways to learn Chinese.

At the end of each lesson, you’ll be tested on what you’ve learnt which is a great way to check that it’s all gone in.

Finally, don’t forget about Superprof, where you can find Chinese private tutorials!

Find out more about Chinese multilingualism… 

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