The two main obstacles in learning Chinese language are the tones which can prove difficult to hear, let alone reproduce and, of course, the learning of the characters. There is no alphabet but you will see that after learning a few characters, a logic will emerge and stems, radicals and concepts will help you remember characters in a fun memorable and, sustainable way.
1. Chinese is not as difficult!
Great news! There is no single conjugation pattern to learn. All verbs are expressed in the same manner. The future and the past are expressed simply by adding adverbs or adverbial phrases such as ‘tomorrow’ (明天－míngtiān), ‘last year’（去年-qùnián）, ‘yesterday’（昨天-zuótiān）
2. Let’s be realistic!
It is believed that in order to read the newspapers, one must learn 3000 characters. There are some irregularities, one single character can be pronounced differently, have several meanings and depending if you are from the North or the South, things are expressed differently. This are quite common variations that actually exists in all languages.
3. One word a day
Learning a language demands discipline. Rest assured, nothing too time-consuming but a 10-20 minutes session everyday will truly help you memorize the characters, as they have to be saved in your long-term memory.
Once you have acquired some basic characters, use your imagination and learn how stems and radicals do offer some great combinations in order to produce meaning. Chinese can be a real mind-twister but as you acquire more and more characters, you will find yourselves being more imaginative, creative and daring with learning new characters.
5. Use Pleco
There are some brilliants apps on the market. Pleco is one of them. It contains an impressive range of entries English-Chinese and vice-verse. It also offers you the ability to test yourself and see statistics of your progression! Don’t forget to enable the Chinese keyboard in your phone so that you can ‘write’ unknown characters you see in the street and ask Pleco what it means.
6. Colorful memories
If you are a visual person, attracted to beautiful things, Chineasy will be your heaven. Combining characters with simple illustration Shaolan – at the root of this social teaching initiative – has managed to create simple Chinese flashcards that will stick in your mind forever.
- – All About Chinese: For your daily fix of cheesy Chinese quotes, this is just a perfect stream of updates
- – MyChineseNow.com Facebook Page
- – Chineasy: Of course and such a colorful Facebook wall!
- – Chinese HSK apps: A great way to learn grammar and prepare the HSK up to level 4. The app offers a comprehensive learning environment raging from strokes order, vocabulary tests, grammar points… The app is only available on Androids.
9. Chinese movies
Time Out just released an impressive list of the 100 best mainland China film to watch! Watching movies is a great way to get accustomed to the language, hear patterns and even learn new vocal in a fun way.
Learning Chinese is probably the most rewarding thing ever. You will have access to a complete whole new world of opportunities and it is incredible how helpful this language will prove to you in the long-run. The more you learn, the more friends you will be able to make!