There’s the notion that learning Mandarin is exceptionally difficult, if not one of the most challenging languages out there.
However, there are many aspects of Mandarin that seem harder or more important than they actually are, for example the grammar is simple and easy to learn. every language is difficult to a degree. Once you’ve decided that you wish to learn a language and that you have the passion, motivation, and patience to learn and see it through, you’re ready for the next steps.
Make a Schedule
As with any skill, you need to put in the hours if you are to be any good at it. While some of us may be naturally gifted at learning a musical instrument or picking up a foreign language, you will eventually plateau if you do not practice enough and regularly. Reassess your schedule: as an adult, you may have a full-time job, or you may be a student. Both require you to balance your work-life.
Calculate how many hours a week you can spare. An hour every night or in the morning could work well if your job or lectures permit it. Make sure to devote time to meeting native speakers to practise with (this will cement and add to what you learn turning it into knowledge). If necessary you can contact us to find out when our free language events take place. If not, you may have to sacrifice your social life for the time being. Once you know where you have free time, make an Excel sheet so that you can log in your hours.
Decide on Your Learning Materials
We all learn in different ways, and so you need to determine which learning method is right for you. Are you perhaps an auditory or visual learner, or maybe you react well to verbal cues? Usually, you will want a combination of all, as with learning languages, you will want to speak, read and write Mandarin. The best way to cover all your bases is to enrol in general Mandarin courses, where you will have a structured course that is taught by the very best teachers. By interacting with teachers and fellow students in real life, habits will be nipped in the bud, and you can experience the authentic dialect that you would encounter in China.
While classes can be a weekly occurrence, investing in workbooks finding resources online and listening to language lessons through your phone can work wonders in solidifying everything you’re taught in your Mandarin course.
Pinyin is a widely-used system of writing Mandarin. It uses the Latin alphabet and is one of the best tools to use when learning the accurate pronunciation of Mandarin. The Chinese characters are replaced with a syllable that can be spelled out phonetically, however, be aware that it may not be pronounced as you would usually read it in English. There are many Pinyin tables online: print one off and keep it with you or stuck to your wall where you study.
Get Over the First Hurdle
It’s all well and good to theorise, but you need to get over the first hurdle and start speaking in Mandarin as soon as possible. If you can, converse with a native speaker; they will ensure you are pronouncing the words correctly, and that the tones you are using are also accurate. If you can, enrol in a one-to-one class or even invest in short online lessons. even seek a personal tutor online.
Understand Chinese Tones
Mandarin is a tonal language, where there are fewer sounds than English. Therefore, it is important for you to understand that the tones you use can greatly impact what it is you’re trying to say. However, if you do not emphasise the correct word or part of the sentence, then native speakers won’t will normally still be able to understand you through context. The best way to wrap your head around the tones is to practice and listen carefully. You need It can be useful to listen and repeat until you are hitting the right tone.
When learning a new language, there is a lot of ground to cover. Your learning needs to be consistent, and you need to put yourself in an environment where you can thrive. Classes and one-on-one tutoring can give you first-hand experience, and by sticking to a routine, you are more likely to retain what you have learnt.