Learning a new language is not an easy task, especially when it comes to learning Chinese. But, if you have the motivation to do it, it is definitely possible. Chinese is known as the most spoken language in the whole world, with nearly 1.2 billion people speaking it as their first language, so you are making the right decision to learn it, since you will have quite a lot of people to communicate with you after you become a fluent speaker.
Before you start learning, be 100% sure you want to embark in this new journey. Many people will try to make you change your mind about learning such a difficult language, while some others will give you their full support, but remember, you are the one who is going to be doing it, so it is up to you and only you to give your all when starting to learn it. Since it can be quite challenging to learn a new language, I’m going to provide you 7 tips on learning Chinese.
1. Go to where the language is spoken
The best way, when it comes to learning any language, is to be in an environment where it is spoken. Why? Because you can practice, practice, practice. Not only speaking, but also listening to other people’s conversations will help you improve your Chinese a lot. So, if you happen to have the opportunity to travel to China, Taiwan, or Singapore (countries which have Mandarin Chinese as their official language) I strongly suggest you to do it. Even if it is only for a short period of time, you can learn a lot from traveling to these countries. The more time you spend in the country, the better your Chinese will get. You can either, sign up for classes at a language center or just learn by going out on the streets and speaking to strangers, which leads me to the next tip… (Don’t worry if you don’t have the opportunity to travel to another country, try finding a Chinese community in your country or a few restaurants/shops where you know there are native speakers for you to practice with.)
2. Make new friends
Making new friends is not really that difficult, especially when you are in a foreign country. You will call people’s attention, because you are different. And whether it’s through food, dance, or just being aware of body language, there are many different ways to bond with people abroad. Try joining language exchange programs with students who wish to practice your mother tongue in return for help on your Chinese. You can also learn unusual local phrases that not many foreigners or tourists would know, believe me, you can’t beat the excitement of surprising a local with a phrase they wouldn’t expect a foreigner to know. People will always be very friendly and compliment you when you speak their language to them. Dating a native speaker is also a great idea.
3. Let technology help you
Technology is one of the best resources to learn a new language, with its help you can now have access to authentic material and native speakers at any time. There are many apps and websites that can help you practice and improve your Chinese. You can just explore the web and discover what works for you and what doesn’t. As you become more familiar with these resources, you’ll find opportunities to improve your language skills that go well beyond what is offered in the traditional textbook. Also, your phone, computer, or tablet might come in handy. If you are actively trying to learn a new language, changing your settings gives you the opportunity to use this new language to complete tasks that you are already doing anyway.
4. Practice regularly
Be sure to make some time on your busy schedule to learn the language, even if it means doing it on your own. If you don’t practice regularly, there’s no chance you will get better at it. Set some time for practicing and stick with it so that you have a dedicated amount of time for learning. Don’t try biting off more than you can chew for the sake of advancing faster. Try learning a few words every day and making sentences with them. By learning phrases that contain vocabulary, you will help yourself to make your communication understood by context. Even 30 minutes a day of review can make a big difference in your progress.
5. Watch Movies and TV Shows
It is no surprise that watching movies and TV shows in a language you are learning is a great way to get the authentic listening practice needed to improve your proficiency. These are excellent ways for listening to native speakers and how a language sounds. You can imitate what you hear to help you remember words. You can also use subtitles to help you, in this way you are more likely to understand the video and learn from it. There are loads of fascinating, exciting and unusual Mandarin movies from China, and by watching them you could also get insight into another way of life.
6. Embrace mistakes
“Mistakes are the portals of discovery” – James Joyce. This quote couldn’t be more accurate. Learning Chinese is one of those pursuits in which mistakes are inevitable. There are literally hundreds of things you can do wrong, but fear not my fellow language learner, because making mistakes is not your worst problem, but the best indication that you are actually making progress. Don’t let fear overcome you, it is okay to make mistakes, you’ll learn from them. The more you fear making mistakes, the more likely you will self-sabotage your efforts of learning. So, embrace your mistakes for a better language learning experience. Move through your fear, focus on the process, welcome change and be patient, because Rome wasn’t built in a day.
7. Set goals
Learning Chinese well and effectively involves and great deal of effort and hard work. Make your goals and objectives realistic. Remember that language learning requires some patience, particularly after accepting it as a journey, not just an end result. Try to relate your goals to actual language functions rather than grammatical functions. Set goals for yourself over short periods of time so that you have a little something to keep you motivated. Don’t forget to check back on your goals often to make sure that you are on course and update them if you don’t find them realistic. The more concrete and specific you are, the easier it will be to see when you have achieved your goal.
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