Everyone learns a new language because they want to be able to communicate in a new way. That’s why it can get frustrating when your language development isn’t as fast as you’d like. This is probably one of the main reasons why learners quit. Because they aren’t learning that language as quickly as they hoped.
With Chinese being such a difficult language, the learning progress can seem even more slower. That’s why we decided to create this blog piece on learning Chinese easily.
Useful tips for learning Chinese easily
1-All about your goals.
When we focus on tips for learning Chinese easily you need to be aware that there is no fast track. That is, learning a language takes time! Until someone invests a way to automatically transfer information into our brains like a computer, you need be patient with yourself. The biggest mistake new language learners make is having goals that are too hard to achieve. Be patient with yourself and realize that it takes time. I like to say ‘study smart’. You can’t learn a language faster than your brain is capable but you can make learning easier for yourself!
As you may have gathered from our previous posts there’s no such thing as ‘Chinese’ (find out more here). Usually when people say Chinese language I think of Mandarin or Cantonese. Before you even think of how to learn Chinese, you need to pick which you will learn. Will you want to learn traditional or simplified characters? Why? Think about your language goals, are they short or long-term. Until then you can read as many blogs with tips for learning Chinese but you might find yourself getting stuck. Basically work out why learning this language is important for you. This will also help you pick the right resources.
3-Find the right resources
Once you’ve worked out ‘why’ you are learning Chinese you can hone in on the right resources. You might want to learn Chinese for fun with no major goal. In that case there’s no point dragging yourself down with heavy HSK books. It would be more suitable to use formats that introduce language easily in short bursts, like apps. However, if it’s the opposite then structured classes and books that focus on minor grammar points might be best for you. It’s so important to find the right resource for you. Many learners quit because they find learning the new language difficult. But what you may not realize is that you may be making it difficult for yourself by not using the correct resources!
4-Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
I’m sure you as you read this you are thinking that I couldn’t have stated something more obvious. Yet, having worked with kids there’s something wonderful about how they learn, that we as adults often forget. Kids are not afraid to make mistakes; they don’t care if they get embarrassed. Learning is a series of trials and errors and kids do this well. As an adult we should take a leaf from their book. If you don’t believe me think about the times you have done something embarrassing did it not teach you a lesson? You probably still remember it now right? When I think of my language journey I have lots of hilarious mistakes. They were embarrassing at the time but taught me a lesson. Every time I use the grammar that I made a mistake in I remember that event. It ensures I don’t make a mistake again. Because of that I suggest finding a native speaker you can talk to. Remember if you want to learn Chinese easily, make more mistakes!
5-Invest in your Chinese studies
Although this is true of any language, it is especially true of Chinese. It all comes back to ‘how to learn Chinese’. I don’t necessary mean invest money, here I’m talking about time. You can’t expect to learn Chinese easily without putting in some work. I’m not suggesting you dedicate your whole spare time to Chinese, if anything this is counter intuitive. Short bursts of language learning have been shown to help learn a language more easily. So set aside anything between 10 to 30 minutes each day to study Chinese. You can even dedicate different days for different skills, Monday learn new vocabulary, Tuesday use that vocabulary in writing form, Wednesday speaking, etc.
There’s one thing I know to be true about myself, I can’t learn by studying off a book. I need real interaction! I learnt more from 1 hour of a Chinese class, than I did a whole month studying an hour a day alone. Because of that, although I use textbooks to review, I now refuse to learn by myself. What is your learning style? Have you noticed a pattern to your learning? There’s no point in struggling studying alone if you prefer to study with others or vice versa. There’s no right way to learn! Find your learning style and use resources accordingly and you will find that Chinese will come to you more easily.
7-Post-it notes are your friend
You can laugh at me all you want but what really helped to solidify difficult grammar points was covering my house in post-it notes. It’s been almost 5 years and sometimes I’ll still find some behind the bookshelf. The key to learning Chinese, especially Chinese characters is repetition. So I would make a bunch of post-it notes and stick them in places I frequently use so that I couldn’t escape Chinese. From the mirror in the bathroom to the top of my desk. If this isn’t for you then flashcards can also serve the same purpose just make sure to actually use them!
8-Should I live and breath Chinese?
Along the same lines as the post-it notes, use any dead time you have. I’m not suggesting revolving your life around Chinese language starting from this moment as it will drive you crazy. But for example, during your free time get into a Chinese TV series. Listen to some Chinese songs on the way to work (really helped me). Get access to Chinese books. But most importantly do stuff to do with China that don’t necessarily have to do with learning Chinese. Check out any Chinese cultural events near you and take part. Learning a language is as much to do with learning the grammar as it is falling in love with that culture.
9-Pay attention to the basics
I say this because of experience. I’ve had to watch many foreign friends having to reteach themselves Chinese because they didn’t learn it the right way the first time. Especially characters! The stroke order is extremely important. Unlike English words you can’t just write Chinese characters anyway it suits you. One of the first things you should focus on as a beginner is the stroke order. It may seem boring and a waste of time but it pays off in the future. Once you know the basic rules for the stroke order you can usually see a new character and guess the correct stroke order. Most Chinese dictionaries and flashcard tools like Pleco will have a stroke order video. Although these are good you should try to memorize stroke order rules by practicing. This in turn will help you to learn Chinese vocabulary more easily.
10-If all else fails get help
Because Chinese is so different to English it may take longer to learn than let’s say Spanish. I also think the only way to easily learn Chinese is with the help of a native speaker. You can try to do it on your own but it takes a lot of time. There’s foundation skills that really require a native speakers support, for example, tones, Chinese alphabet (pinyin), etc. Although there are many apps that focus on this they can never truly replace a native speaker. This is also because humans are social learners, they learn by interacting with others. Recent research has shown that children learn language as well as a native speaker if it’s presented as a social interaction, e.g. with a teacher. But if provided something like a TV show they hardly learn anything.
If you have the time and money to invest I would suggest taking some time out to study in China. There are both short (2 weeks to a semester long) and long-term courses available. Not everyone has the chance to do this, but online classes can be just as useful. That’s why if you have children aged between 5 to 12 years old I suggest our platform Lingo Bus. We offer both individual classes and group classes that you can take from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. What this means is that you don’t even have to leave your house, and can schedule classes around your timetable. The classes are 25 minutes long to ensure an optimal study effect. With a stringent teacher recruitment acceptance rate (at just 4%) only the best of the best work for us! You can find out more at LINK, all new users are offered a free demo class so you don’t lose anything by signing up!
Just try applying some of the tips provided in this article and you will see your Chinese skills increase exponentially!
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