Contrary to popular belief that English is the most spoken language in the world, it is actually Chinese that takes top honors with 1.35 billion Chinese speakers in the world. Spoken by locals in mainland China or Taiwan, Chinese immigrants in other countries, tourists, and businesses, the Chinese language is spoken all over the world to some degree. It’s probably a good idea to learn the language for both your career and to generally get a better understanding of this global culture.

Learning a language quickly doesn’t necessarily mean learning the new language in a sloppy or shoddy way. 

There is a Chinese saying, “磨刀不误砍柴工”, which means “the more the preparation, the faster work gets done.”  In this article, we’re going to show you some tips and tricks that will help you reach your ambitious goals of learning Chinese in a structured and organized way. To start teaching yourself Chinese, you must do some basic research about your target language, Mandarin Chinese. The internet is a good place to start, with its repository of articles and videos about the Chinese language, its history, the Chinese culture, and so on.

Learn Chinese online with Superprof
To start learning Chinese, you must first lay a solid groundwork for progress.

Lay the Foundation for Learning Chinese

There are several “Chinese” languages but not many of them are used globally. When we say Chinese, we generally mean “Mandarin Chinese”. However, there are around 7-10 main modern Chinese languages. TO begin a Chinese learning course, first learn the difference between the different dialects of Chinese, such as Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese.

Mandarin Chinese alone is the most widely spoken native language in the world: nearly a billion within China alone and 1.2 billion worldwide—a few hundred million people more than the next most widespread languages, Spanish and English.

Mandarin Chinese is the official language of the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and Singapore. You can also speak Chinese in parts of Vietnam, Cambodia, and a number of different regions around the globe. Mastering every aspect of Chinese would take years and hundreds of hours of classes.

Practice Writing in Pinyin

Pinyin, a system devised to write Chinese characters using phonetic spelling, is an enjoyable way of learning to write in Chinese without having to memorize the thousands of Chinese characters. You can write in pinyin on your computer by adjusting the settings on your Mac or PC.

Learn and Practice Everyday Chinese Words

If you want to make learning Chinese easier, you should always start with some useful words and expressions. When we say basic words, we mean everyday words that you can use in almost every situation.

You’ll need to learn words and expressions like “ni hao” (hello), “zai jian” (goodbye), “wo de ring ming shi” (my name is...), “duo shao qian” (how much is it?), “chi fan” (eat) and “qu” (go).

It’s worth noting that the words “yes” and “no” don’t really exist in Chinese. In fact, you have to use expressions like “hao ah” (that’s good) and “bu xing” (that’s not good).

Where can you learn to read and write Mandarin?
Practice reading and writing in Chinese to quicky master the language.

Learn the Rules of Chinese Grammar

To learn Chinese quickly and effectively, you should know the following rules. There are certain words in English that don’t exist in Chinese and vice-versa.

Here are a few key rules:

  • In Chinese, you don’t conjugate verbs.

  • Yes” and “no” don’t really exist.
  • To make Chinese sentences, you need a personal pronoun and a verb. Unlike other languages, you just put the pronoun with the one form of the verb.

  • There are 4 different tones. This means that each word can have four different meanings depending on how it’s pronounced. However, you can make yourself understood without perfectly mastering the tones.

  • When it comes to negations, the word “bu” is usually used for most verbs but some do use “mei”.

Make Word Lists

One of the best ways to effectively learn a foreign language is to put together word lists to help you better memorise vocabulary. Organize your vocabulary and word lists thematically to help you remember the words better. We recommend writing your words on card stock and organizing certain groups of word by colour, for example.

Groups could include:

  • Basic words

  • The environment

  • Cooking

  • Travelling

  • Time (months, days, seasons, etc.)

  • Leisure

Get Help Working on Your Chinese

In order to effectively improve your Chinese, we’ve put together a couple of ways that could really help you make significant improvements in a short amount of time:

Sign Up for Chinese Lessons

You could either go to a language school or take up Chinese as an additional subject in university for group lessons. Most big cities in India will have a number of Chinese language learning centers or colleges where Chinese is taught. Whether you’re a total beginner, intermediate, or speak Chinese at an advanced level, you can also find online Chinese lessons for your level.

Which is the best website for learning Mandarin?
There are plenty of online learning resources available for students of the Chinese language.

Get a Private Chinese Tutor

Get a private tutor who can teach you Chinese at home or online. This means that you’ll be the only student in class and the tutor can dedicate all their time to teaching you. Just like they would at a university or a language school, a tutor can evaluate your level and make sure their lessons are going at the right speed. They’ll also work out which methods work and which don’t so that you’ll get the most out of every hour you spend with them.

Practice and Imporve Your Chinese Abilities

Chinese is very different to languages like English, French, German, and Spanish. In addition to its history, China and other countries where they speak Mandarin Chinese have different religions, cultures, and norms that influence the language and make it even more different to European languages.

This is why you should consider immersing yourself in Chinese culture to help you better learn the language. This can also help you to master the 4 tones more quickly. Moreover, try these simple methods of learning Chinese and remembering what you have learned!

Immerse Yourself, Make Chinese Friends

Chinese people are known to be incredibly welcoming and friendly.

Expand your cultural horizons and pick up the nuances of the Chinese language by making friends with the natives who speak it. It's an engaging and emotionally rewarding learning experience! Imagine going to a bar, or to dinner, or just hanging out on a Sunday afternoon, conversing in Chinese!

Combine Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing

How are you in Chinese? The simplest way to assess this is to combine the different aspects of learning Chinese. To start with, it is a good idea to focus on each category of learning separately - listening, reading, speaking, and writing. However, to ace the language skills, you will eventually need to combine the four as you progress. Here are some examples of activities that can serve this purpose.

For Reading and Speaking: Read Aloud

Reading aloud is the easiest way to combine reading and speaking. Beside ensuring that you’re always practicing those tones, you can be critical in how you sound to others when you speak in Chinese. Choose reading materials on topics that interest you.

Make flashcards and carry them along when you go out for your daily chores, like shopping or commuting to work. Categorize the cards into various aspects of Chinese that you are currently learning, such as types of food, types of transportation, or Chinese words to use at the workplace.

How long does it take to learn Mandarin Chinese?
Cultural immersion is the most effective of ways to learn Chinese fast.

For Listening and Writing: Use Informal Media

Your Chinese lessons have probably got you introduced to taking dictations in Chinese, or 听写 (tīng xiě), literally “listen write.” There are many ways you can try out Chinese dictation. Ask a Chinese friend to help or your partner in class. There are also Chinese dictation apps available for both Apple and Android smartphones.

Listening to Chinese radio or Chinese newscasts is also a great way to practice your Chinese. Use your Netflix and subscription to good use and watch Chinese movies. Turn off the subtitles. Write down what you hear. And, then turn the subtitles back on to check if you guessed write!

For Reading and Writing: Practice, Practice, and Practice!

Many Chinese characters look similar. The best way to get used to the distinctions is to practice your reading and writing, together. The easiest way to do this is to read a sentence and then, write it down. You can also try and memorize what you read and write it without looking at the text.

Learning Chinese can be a struggle or it can be enjoyable. The choice is yours. Given the right tools, guidance, and resources, a Chinese language course can feel empowering for the students. The key is to never give up!

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Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.