Are you gifted with languages? Do you see yourself as a “language person”? Many of whom that think of taking offline or online Chinese classes will ask these questions to themselves. Personally, I don’t see myself as such. In the post, I argue that you really don’t need to be a linguist to reach your goals in Mandarin. So, how to learn Chinese fast? It’s just a question of drawing on qualities you already have, then stepping forth with confidence. This articles explains four tips that help you to learn how to speak Chinese.
I first started learning Mandarin after graduating university. At the time I was excited to jump into something new, but I was also intimidated. My relationship with foreign languages was not happy until that point; I didn’t do badly at high school French, but my confidence was lacking. Forming sentences in real-time conversation left me red-faced, my words stumbling over each other in a race to be finished.
I’m just not a language person, I told myself.
However, having spent a number of years learning Mandarin (and plenty of that time making mistakes), I know now that you really don’t need to have any special talent for languages to reach a decent level of Chinese. You just have to leave fear at the door and draw on the qualities you do have available.
The following are examples of qualities that can help enormously:
Learning Mandarin is a lifelong pursuit, as is understanding Chinese culture as a foreigner. Much of the fun is found down the rabbit holes one follows when learning a new character. For example, you learn a new radical and, suddenly, the meanings of many other words open up! Those who are curious and have an intrinsic enjoyment of learning can thrive with Mandarin.
First of all, it is of great importance to have a crystalized plan on how to learn Chinese before a learner of the Language sets out to acquire the language. Learning how to speak the Chinese language is actually not difficult as opposed to some misconceptions by non-native speakers and learners of the language; for instance, Mandarin has no tenses, no conjugations, no plurals, and no verb/subject agreement like in the English Language. Also, Mandarin has simple prepositions, simple conditional sentences and a simple numbering system which is applied to dates and time expressions.
It is likewise essential to have a decent knowledge of how to learn and reasons to learn this language. One should look at the benefits and positive outcomes of learning the language. Proficiency in the Mandarin Chinese can be of great benefit in countless ways, for example, China has the second largest economy and is the most populated country in the world, with 1.28 billion people, besides, Mandarin has over 960 million native speakers and as such, anyone proficient in the language will have an edge over others who are not when competing for an important position in the labor market as well as accesses to open windows in countless career opportunities among others.
Before learning the Chinese language, aspiring learners of the language would have to ask themselves cogent questions like what level of proficiency do I want to achieve? Do I want to learn more about speaking the language or more about writing the language? How much time am I ready to devote to learning the Chinese language in a week? Though the above questions are fundamental for those who learn how to learn Chinese, it is also agreeable that learners of the language have an assertive motivation to keep them on their toes as well as a constant thought on their goals and reasons for wanting to learn the language.
Some people prefer to be more focused on learning, which can also totally work in your favor with Mandarin. For example, if you choose to focus on the HSK Test vocabulary you have a very clear path to follow. You’ll also likely enjoy regular classes and methodical learning techniques like Spaced Repetition.
Learn basic knowledge about Chinese and general language learning
Basic knowledge of Mandarin and general language learning is essential for those who are learning the Mandarin language, facts like: one syllable in Mandarin contains a maximum of four phonemes (maximum of three vowels and no consonant cluster), the devoicing of sibilants and stops which is common among most non-Mandarin varieties, the loss of final stop consonants and /-m/, the palatalization of alveolar sibilants as well as velar consonants when they appear before palatal glides, the presence of retroflex consonants though absent in many North-eastern and south-western Mandarin dialects.
Skip what you don’t really need
Those who are to learn Chinese especially the Mandarin variety should endeavor to skip unnecessary information (i.e. what they don’t really need), learners of Chinese for business purposes only would be clever not to spend their time learning Chinese characters which are in fact quite complex; persons learning the Mandarin language who do not need much vocabulary can concentrate on practicing daily conversations instead of trying to memorize about 100 words in a day.
Learn gradually and keep going
Chinese learning requires a consistent learning process, for example, spending less time each day practicing rather than a long session of learning during the course of a week. A gradual learning process is advised for easy comprehension of the language; learning a particular desired language is candidly not a stress-free task, someone who learns Chinese should not expect to be an expert with an advanced level of fluency in the language in a short time, rather, having a realizable and achievable goal as regards the acquisition of the Chinese language is highly essential.
Knowing how to laugh at yourself
It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes when learning Mandarin. All the tones and pronunciation and sentence structures… there’s plenty of opportunities to go wrong! It’s just part of the learning process. Being comfortable with laughing at yourself is, therefore a truly a GREAT quality when learning Chinese (note: a teacher can help you refine this skill in private!)
Extroverts, rejoice! Learning Mandarin is going to be such good fun if you’re happy to practice speaking at every opportunity – not just in front of the mirror, but also with native speaking teachers and friends! For the more introverted out there, fret not: Mandarin is also a worthy solo pursuit (see Curiosity, above).
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