As one of the six official languages used by the UN (United Nations), Chinese now has earned itself greater status in the world.

Having said this, Chinese is also one of the hardest languages to pick up and adapt to. The language is complex and comes with several sub-types and dialects. A Chinese language course would require you to learn thousands of characters, different pronunciations, and tones that are almost an alien concept to Indians.  The challenge lies in the dissimilarity in language roots.

While the Indian language shares, to a great extent, similarities with British English or French, such similarities are absent when it comes to the Chinese language. But you do not need to worry. For there are many options to learn Chinese online or take a Chinese language course elsewhere.

All About the Chinese Language

Where can you study Chinese at school?
The Chinese culture is rich in heritage that translates into the richness of its language as well.

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word crisis. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. - John F. Kennedy

Much like what the former U.S. President had said, learning the Chinese language also presents a challenge and opportunity to the learner. The beauty of the language lies in the fact that it almost teaches you art and a skill that is multi-faceted. The first step to learning Chinese is to rid yourself of the fear of failing at it.

Before you start learning Chinese, familiarize yourself a bit with the basic concepts of the language. Read on to find out more about the mysterious language.

Simplify Chinese Characters with Pinyin

Chinese characters, at first, may make you feel like this is not your cup of tea. It is okay to feel that way. Starting is always the hardest. Thankfully, there are ways to ease that challenge and help you understand Chinese characters better.

Tongyong Pinyin that loosely translates to common phonetic, is a system developed in Taiwan that romanizes languages and dialects. If you are struggling with how to learn Chinese, you can use this simple method to write the Chinese characters with the help of the Latin alphabets. The latter is a much more commonly used and known language than Chinese.

Chinese Tones

Mandarin Chinese has four different tones. This complicates the language even further. But if you listen and observe closely, the way a word is spoken and the context in which it is spoken can easily give away its meaning.

The trick is to listen carefully to the pronunciation, tone, and be aware of the context of the conversation. This will make you less nervous and more engaged in the dialogue.

Chinese Grammar

The Chinese put a lot of emphasis on phrases, pronunciation, and tone. But not on complex grammar concepts like conjugations. In Chinese, there is no concept of conjugations. This somewhat eases the learning of the language.

In the English language, we simply add an “s” to a noun to state its plural. In the Chinese language, however, the same form of the noun is used. This means there is no concept of numbers either to deal with. This further increases your level of learning to the next step.

The Chinese Vocabulary

Like any other language, Chinese vocabulary is vast. Needless to say, it might seem difficult to learn and also remember new vocabulary at first. But if you study the language well, you will find a logical framework at work here. As you progress through the Chinese language course, you would be surprised to learn that it is all actually pretty simple. Most of the Chinese words are but a combination of two or more words that you might have already learned.

Writing in Chinese

There are three pillars on which the Chinese language is founded:

  1. Radicals: Chinese characters that are similar to the English alphabet. Each radical in the Chinese language has its own meaning.
  2. Characters: Radicals are put together to form characters.
  3. Words: Words in Chinese are formed through the combination of characters.

Chinese writing is done in strokes. They are the classified sets of line patterns that are arranged and combined to form Chinese characters. If you are interested to know how to learn Chinese fast, then the first step is to master the strokes and learn the logic behind radicals.

Just to put things in perspective, there are over 50,000 characters in the Chinese language, but an average Chinese man knows only about 8,000. So rest assured that you do not have an impossible mission to achieve.

How to Learn Chinese

Chinese speaking class
You can learn Chinese online, through audiobooks, or in the classroom. | Source: Freepik

As they say, practice makes a man perfect. The same applies to learn the Chinese language. Whether you download a free app or enroll in a Chinese language course, without practice, none of the methods would be fruitful. But before you can practice, you have to learn. You can explore these methods to learn the Chinese language:

On the Job Training

The best way to learn anything in life is through practical training and real-time exposure. You can opt for this method to learn Chinese too. Whether you choose to enroll in an exchange program, or plan a vacation, or go to China for higher education, you can simply plant yourself in the region to learn the regional language. As simple as that.

Learn Chinese Online

Migrating to China with the objective of learning the language may not be the most efficient and cost-effective way for many young Indians. There are ample courses available online for you to download and learn. You can also attend live classes with Chinese tutors and get real-time feedback and assessments on your progress.

Enroll in a Chinese Language Course

This is yet another easy method to learn the Chinese language. Many cultural institutes, universities, and even community-based clubs offer classes on building your Chinese language skills. You can opt for any one of them that suits you best.

Learn Chinese with a Private Tutor

This is the best way to learn the Chinese language if you want focused attention and want to complete the course in a specified period of time. There are plenty of Chinese tutors available in the market, who can teach both online and in a classroom setting, even in the comfort of your home.

While some cities have more tutors than others, there’s a good spread of Chinese tutors around the country. Tutors also come with the advantage of personalized teaching modules that suit your learning needs. Private tutorial platforms like Superprof can offer you both qualified and native tutors near you or online.

So take up the challenge to learn something new that can prove to be beneficial in your career and education. Discover more ways to speak Chinese.

More Useful Tips on How to Learn the Chinese Language

learning chinese online
Online tutor platforms like Superprof provide ample scope for learning languages, such as Chinese, from the comfort of your home. | Source: Superprof
  1. Spend time with Chinese friends. They will be more than happy to speak in their mother tongue in a foreign country. Even a 5-minute conversation can work wonders.

  2. Explore the Chinese culture: Go to Chinatown and visit the local restaurants. Try to pick up the menu that offers you options in Chinese. So what if you can't go to China, you can always make do with local solutions.

  3. Watch Chinese films and TV shows. Pay attention to the tonality, pronunciations, and relate them to the contexts in which they are spoken. Even those who rarely watch TV should consider using this method to help them hear and speak more Chinese. You can only make so much progress in reading and writing Chinese. A little bit of hearing it being used also helps.

  4. Acquaint yourself with Chinese music. If the language is an art, wonder how beautiful its music would be. Look for channels that offer karaoke music. That way you can not only make progress in learning Chinese but can also hone your talent as a musician.

  5. Travel to China or Taiwan. Mix work and pleasure. These are two countries that predominantly speak the language and can offer a great deal by way of its cultural heritage. No better place for you to be exposed to the nuances of the Chinese language.

At the end of the day, you do not have to be an expert in the Chinese language. The trick to learning Chinese fast and well is to be proactive, sincere, and keep practicing along the way. You would be amazed at how well and quickly you can become adept at a new language as complex as Chinese.

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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.