When anyone expresses the desire to learn Chinese they are often met by responses such as “Wow, that’s an extremely difficult language to learn” “That’s going to take you forever to learn!” “That’s the hardest language to learn” and “Why would you ever want to learn Chinese?”
Before I landed in China I was under the impression that Chinese lessons would be offered at the school I was going to be working at. I was disappointed to find out that this was not the case at my specific school but instead at another location that had different owners. With that being said my excitement to learn Chinese slowly faded away but recently a spark inside of me wanted to learn Chinese again. I wanted to be able to go home and hit up China town and have a full conversation with shop keepers. I wanted to be able to communicate with the people that approach me on a daily basis instead of always shrugging my shoulders followed by “I’m sorry” but what really sparked my desire was to be able to communicate with the children I would visit in the orphanages.
I decided to ask some help. I wanted to be able to tackle this language that I’ve been surrounded by for the last 8 months.Here are some tips that I’ve received from some wonderful individuals:
“The best way to learn Mandarin is to find a Chinese friend who can speak absolutely no English. If you communicate with someone everyday who only speaks Mandarin, your vocabulary will grow as you’re forced to speak their language. An app you’ll want to download is Pleco; you’ll be able to use the on screen reader which will help you learn the characters you cannot read as you see them more often in text messages. I’ve learned so much just through texting one friend; the native speakers can really help you improve”
Angel Tillery, Heilongjiang University 黑龙江大学
“Try singing Chinese songs from genres you enjoy, watch tv shows with subtitles and speak along with it.Being around others who speak in Mandarin can be very helpful”
Charles Francis Guo
“Find a Chinese boyfriend or girlfriend. Spend time with Chinese people, not with other foreigners. If you’re trying to learn the characters, write the same character more than 100 times if you want to remember it”
Hector, Heilongjiang University 黑龙江大学
“I think one of the most interesting/helpful things is to take a genuine interest in learning the language (I myself have just started to learn Nyanja!). To me a language is a tool, a means to an end, a gate to a completely unfamiliar world. And I think when you put things into perspective, it’s much easier to stick to the learning regimen and help persevere when you juggle competing priorities or when you feel like reaching a plateau in learning a language.”
Yue Ma, Rent to Own (Zambia)
“Try to make learning Chinese a fun experience. Make friends, watch Chinese movies and listen to music. The more you love it, your curiosity will expand and the language will naturally come to you. Learning the characters may sometimes seem daunting but never give up”
Julia, Harbin Institute of Technology
Are you interested in learning Chinese? Do you have any additional tips? Let me know in the comments below!
Stay Restless my friends!