8 Tips Every Student of Chinese Should LearnFor Learning Mandarin Chinese
- Get Chinese audio. Textbooks aren’t enough to learn the sounds and tones. The sounds of Chinese are much different than those in English. And, as for tones, well, they should be entirely new to most students. That’s why getting a grasp of the sounds via real sounds is so important.
- Start by memorizing simple sentences. For speaking conversational Chinese in “everyday situations”, most speakers use a small handful of grammar patterns and words. By memorizing useful sentences, you can switch out vocabulary to fit the situation, making your Chinese seem more fluent than it really is.
- Memorize pinyin and then forget it. Pinyin is the first thing most Chinese learners memorize, but too many students overly rely on it. Once you’ve got the hang of it, forget it. In this way, you’ll be looking at the actual characters and not the English-looking pinyin. How do you forget it? Just stop using it once you’ve memorized. For example, after I stopped relying on pinyin, I started using WuBi to type, which doesn’t require any pinyin knowledge.
- Look out for subtleties. Chinese has many maddening subtleties, especially in informal expression. Many would call these “cultural differences.” Remember, language is integrated with culture. When you see something weird, ask a native to explain it. Not all of Chinese’s subtleties can be understood from a logical standpoint.
- Master the tones. Most Chinese textbooks and many Chinese teachers suck at teaching the tones. Find a tutor who can train you to speak the tones naturally. Once you can speak them, you can also hear them.
- Take the HSK to learn to speak mandarin. The HSK will guide your progress more than anything else. And even if you don’t plan on moving to, living in or working in China, it’s worth taking the HSK test.
- Get a Chinese tutor. Seriously. And not just for tones, but for overall help. A tutor knows the best ways to add good learning routines. By repeatedly using a tutor, you’ll move faster than your peers and classmates.
- Take the hsk chinese exam. Yes, this is a repeat, but it must be stated twice. Taking the HSK is like walking up stairs. Many students are trying to jump to the roof without taking steps up the stairs. Ridiculous! A natural language progression requires steps. The HSK offers six steps toward fluency. Anyone who is learning Chinese will benefit from the HSK test.