If you are looking to learn Chinese, then you need to first understand the basics of the Chinese language. Chinese is a difficult language to learn and master. That is the basic premise you need to start with. At the same time, learning the language presents an opportunity as well. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with almost 16% of the global population speaking one or the other type of Chinese language.

Do you know what a foreign accent is? It's a sign of bravery! - Amy Chua

Take inspiration from this motivational quote and gear up for an adventure. Because to learn the Chinese language is nothing less than an exciting journey!

Tips on How to Learn Chinese

Which are the best ways to learn Mandarin?
No better place to learn the Chinese language than China itself!

While English is one of the world’s most important languages, Chinese is by far the most spoken language in the world. A whopping 900 million people speak native Chinese, while another 300 million have chosen it as a second language.

In your professional career too, the skill of speaking Mandarin Chinese could be an asset. This is also considering that China has slowly emerged as a superpower in the world economy. It doesn't matter where you go to work, some part of your business can be traced back to China.

Learn Chinese through Immersion

Whether you choose to go to China for a holiday or higher studies, staying and living with the local people can do wonders in helping you learn the language. Understanding culture is also important because the Chinese language has a long history of being handed down by generations of people who have helped develop the language.

An easy way to learn Chinese through community immersion is to get in touch with organizations or educational institutes that organize such exchange programs. All you need to do is get in touch with them with your request and leave the organizing bit to the experts. Find out more about students' exchange programs in China. 

Find a Chinese Teacher for Private Tuition

A private tutor who teaches you the Chinese language can provide undivided attention to help you build the necessary skills to pick up the complex language. In India, you can easily find a Chinese teacher who can either teach online or in the comfort of your home. Explore online teaching platforms like Superprof to find the perfect Chinese teacher for yourself.

The main advantage of private tutorials is that you can take a different approach than you would do if you were taking traditional language courses at school or university. While choosing your private Chinese teacher, make sure they can help you with the following before signing them up:

  • Familiarity with the Pinyin system.

  • Comprehensive understanding of grammar in the Chinese language. 

  • Understanding of the basics of Chinese language namely radicals, characters, words, and strokes. 

  • Good grip on Chinese vocabulary. 

Make sure you push them to speak to you in their native tongue. Remember, practice makes a man perfect!

In terms of your career, there are also private tutors who can offer tutorials for adults wanting to improve their language skills through conversation or learn more about Chinese-speaking culture.

Online Tutors for the Chinese Language

In today's technologically advanced world, there are plenty of online options to learn something. The same is true of the Chinese language. Many mobile- and web-based applications have been developed to help learners learn at their own pace, with flexible rates and a variety of tutor portfolios.

Check out some of the best Chinese tutors available on platforms like Superprof India.

5 Best Apps to Learn Chinese

english learning
Apps make it easier to learn the language. Source: Freepik Credits Vectorpouch

Technology like art is a soaring exercise of the human imagination. - Daniel Bell

There is no shadow of a doubt about the fact that technology has revolutionized education in the 21st century. So why not use it to learn Chinese? While there are plenty of e-learning resources and apps for learning Chinese, most focus on reading and writing instead of speaking and listening.

So which ones can you choose to learn the Chinese language? Here is a list of the top-performing apps for you:

Memrise

You can download the basic version for free. If you want the more advanced versions, there are easy subscription plans in place for you to choose from. There are levels to the course on the app, where you can learn 10 to 15 new words in each level.

The app offers a combination of hearing the words for tonality and pronunciation, along with teaching you the spellings for each. Overall, it is an easy app to learn Chinese for beginners. It ranks highly on the list of the most useful Chinese language apps and is definitely a popular choice among learners in India. You can even earn points as you make progress and invite your friends to learn as well.

Hello Chinese

This one is absolutely free without any in-app purchases that clearly kill your motivation to learn. You get reminders and notifications lest you stumble on your path to learning something new. The first few lessons are dedicated to learning pronunciations and the basics before you can jump into understanding the more complex concepts of strokes and vocabulary.

This app is also game-based where you can earn points as you progress. This in turn helps you progress to the next level. Each level is supplemented with a quiz that is assessed and graded to track your progress.

Pleco

This is more of a translation dictionary than a teaching app. But it is one of the best and most useful. It works in both Chinese and English. All you have to do is type in the word that you wish to look up. The app gives you an entire history of the word that includes the play of strokes, the radicals and characters used to make up the word, and of course the pronunciation and tonality.

The app is super fun and advanced too. It comes with a voice command where you do not have to type in the word if you are not sure of the spelling. For a Chinese word, it has the additional feature of letting you use strokes to look up the word. Super cool, isn't it?

Chillingo

This app uses actual Chinese teachers who work with you through live classroom sessions. The classes are marked with assessments and quizzes to help you learn and progress more effectively.

Now, having real teachers entails a cost and that is why, this app, although great, might prove to be a drain on the pockets as you move up the levels.

Learn Chinese Mandarin

This app comes with an in-built voice modulated assistant who speaks native Chinese. This is really useful to get your pronunciation and tonality right. The lesson units come with flashcards and quizzes, and let you take the assessments more than once. The design is clean and simple, making the user interface really friendly and easy to use.

How to Learn Chinese Using Spaced Repetition

Chinese Scripts
Chinese writing using spaced repetition.

Based on a system designed in the 19th century by Hermann Ebbinghaus, research on a Spaced Repetition System has proven it to be an invaluable language learning method. This system is based on Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve and is one of the best approaches to learning Chinese vocabulary. Many school textbooks, e-learning modules, and Chinese language courses use this method to teach the Chinese language.

To understand how to learn Chinese using spaced repetition, you need to be aware of what the actual technique is. And the purpose it serves. The spaced repetition strategy reviews vocabulary that uses increasingly long intervals between reviews of a word. Since the Chinese script is lengthy, there is always the fear of forgetting some words while using them in a text. This technique helps you remember the texts better even without seeing them for a long time. 

While technology has changed how we learn foreign languages, this simple method is still used as the foundation of an algorithm designed to work out the ideal time for further study. But of course, this method is not a substitute for your memory. And you must push yourself to remember and retain as much in your memory as you can. The trick is to build clarity of concepts.

At the end of the day, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to learn Chinese. A little bit of motivation, and sincerity, along with a little perseverance will do the trick. But it is important to keep practicing and exchanging the learning with others for the art to not get lost.

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Shreyanjana

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.