9 Tips to Help You Learn Chinese Language
9 Tips to Help You Learn Chinese Language
Chinese language is quickly becoming an important tool of communication with the country becoming a major world player in business and economic front. Chinese can sound strange especially for English speakers, but it is worth noting that this language is also enjoyable if at all you have an idea on how to approach it especially as a learner. We will be providing you with a number of tips to help make it a bit easier for you to learn and master Mandarin and Cantonese language thus helping you communicate fluently with your Chinese friends, business partners or acquaintances.
Tips to help you learn Chinese language successfully
TIP 1: Choose either traditional or simplified characters
When it comes to learning Mandarin, you will realize that there are two methods used in writing different words and characters. Traditional characters have many strokes required when writing but simplified characters come with few strokes thus changing the form altogether. For example, look at how characters appear when writing “fei or to fly”
Simplified characters have been in existence since 1950s and they were introduced to help increase literacy rates. They are used officially in both Singapore and china and therefore worth learning especially if you are targeting either of these two countries for business or any other purpose. On the other hand, traditional Chinese characters are commonly used in countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. So, your first step when you want to learn the Chinese language should be whether you want simplified or traditional characters.
TIP 2: Look for the right trainer or training program
As with every other course, you will need to look around and ensure that your tutor properly understands Chinese and is capable of offering quality lessons to you. You will need intensive learning right from the beginning if you are to master the Chinese language and this can only happen if you have the right tutor or Chinese learning program.
In the early lessons, you will need to build a good foundation and basics are very important. You will need to put in some effort and get the right introduction from the word go as outlined in our next tip.
TIP 3: Be keen of the notes
Mandarin and Cantonese normally uses tones which you will need to master if you are to communicate fluently. There are more than ten distinguishable tones (Mandarin has about 4 and Cantonese has about 6), that you should learn especially if you are an English speaker. It is very important to master the Pinyin required to pronounce the grapheme characters, and understand other basics including the order of strokes in the formation of characters. This is very important since using a different pitch when pronouncing the same Chinese words could bring out a completely different meaning.
It is also worth noting that there have been attempts to use “ABC” alphabets for Chinese words with the aim of helping learners grasp the tones quickly. However, it will be better if you used audio-based programs if you want to speak Chinese properly and work towards the reproduction of the sounds you hear when learning.
When using written or Romanized Chinese, what you get is normally an approximation and you will need to get familiar with the real character sounds. To master your learning well, you can choose to combine both the natural language Romanization and audio as opposed to learning difficult Pinyin systems during your lessons.
TIP 4: Avoid memorizing vocabulary lists but instead learn the phrases
Structuring your learning by specializing on phrases containing expressions can be very helpful whenever you want to communicate within context even when your tones are out of balance. As with every other language, Chinese has different words that bear similar or the same meaning but these should be used within their context. For this reason, many students find it a little bit more resourceful to learn vocabulary within context.
Unlike most languages such as Spanish or French, Chinese vocabulary has no connection with English. This makes memorizing of particular words a bit trickier and less resourceful than learning Chinese in expressions.
TIP 5: Avoid emphasising too much on grammatical rules
The simplicity of grammatical formation makes the Chinese vocabulary a bit more complicated. As with all languages that require you to follow certain rules except when there are some exceptions, the best way to advance faster is if you are able to understand the “feeling” of the grammatical structure by practicing and getting exposed, instead of relying on academic comprehension of the rules. This is true especially when it comes to the learning of Cantonese. You will learn more effectively if you adopt the same method that a child uses to learn how to speak when introduced to a language. You will need to listen and repeat what you hear time and time again until you are able to master Chinese and say sentences appropriately.
TIP 6: Make sure you are exposed to the language
You will be able to learn Chinese faster and easily if you are frequently exposed to the language. As you begin your lessons, you will need to listen to audio lessons or programs for a number of hours and do this repeatedly. With time, you will realise that you are developing the ability to differentiate and reproduce the Chinese tones more perfectly and be able to speak using the right grammar because you will become more accustomed to it. You cannot run away from frequent exposure especially during the foundational stages of learning. These skills are better learnt by listening, being exposed to the language but not in a book. You can have some audio to listen to while driving or when engaging in different activities especially during your own free time. Always look for programs that are more interactive and you will become more honed in your learning.
TIP 7: Just enjoy yourself
It is easy to enjoy accelerated learning for anything that you find fun in doing. When learning Chinese, you will need to allow yourself to enjoy the process and this way you will be more focused both in your mind and efforts. Do you remember your years in high school? What happened to those lessons you abhorred? You either failed or even dropped them altogether. This is the same principal when learning Chinese. You will have to be self-motivated if you are to learn and excel in this language. Just adjust your mind and do it out of your own free will and with time, you will notice a major difference.
You can enjoy learning Chinese by maybe joining a Chinese language group where participants are focused on practicing Chinese. This adds to your self-motivation and helps you to become sharper with time. In some cases, you can opt for conversational programs at local community colleges where Chinese lessons are offered and have fun interacting with other participants who have a genuine interest in the language.
Another great idea will be to participate in language exchange programs especially with Chinese seeking to learn and practice in English. You will be helping them practice English and in return they will be helping you with Chinese and this is a win-win situation for both of you. Chat groups are also effective when sharpening your skills but you will need voice chat as this helps bring out the tones better and easily.
TIP 8: Get Chinese materials
Chinese materials such as movies can be of great help especially when you want to reinforce your learning. You can get great movies in Cantonese and Mandarin which will help refine your skills amazingly. Additionally, you can join different forms of individualized tutoring programs and especially where you have someone dedicated to helping you. It is easier to learn when you have someone helping you and especially someone you are free with as opposed to being involved in a group setting. This helps you to remain motivated all through especially if you have some assignments that you need to work on.
TIP 9: Choose the right learning style
Your counterpart’s learning style might not be the most suitable for you. There are different effective methods which you should assess and see which one perfectly works for you. For example, you can try different tutors and voices to hear different pronunciation of words as this could help hasten your learning efforts. If you choose to learn online or in a localized program, make sure you are exposed to a great supply of material in form of audio, visual and even written content. This will help you know how to pronounce and write Chinese characters easily and give you an edge when it comes to honing your skills.
There are many free online Chinese learning programs which you can benefit from including Chinese dictionaries, printable flashcards and games. Downloadable software can also be found for use in iPads, iPhone, Windows Mobile and palm OS among others. These are good as they allow you to learn Chinese on the go and stay afloat at all times. As you advance in your Chinese lessons, a trip to China or Chinese-speaking countries could be worth considering.
Where to learn Chinese in Klang Valley?
Thinking hard on where should you learn Chinese in Klang Valley? No worries! We can give you some suggestions!
If you are staying in Shah Alam or Klang, you probably can try Belajar Bahasa Cina (BBC) located in Bukit Rimau, Shah Alam.
Alternatively, you may request freelance tutors to go to your house to teach you!