8 Tips for Learning Chinese
Use these 8 simple tips in your Chinese studies to make your efforts more effective along the way.
1. Study daily for best results. A common thought is that it takes at least 21 days of doing something repeatedly to make it become a habit and 10,000 hours to become a master at it. That said, you will want to make studying a part of your daily routine even if you only spend as little as fifteen minutes studying. Think about it, that’s only about 1% of your whole day.
2. Incorporate reading, writing, listening and speaking into each study session for the most results. These four components are essential to learning any language and many people forget this and focus on just one. I know because at first, I did. I only cared about speaking Chinese, but once I realized that there’s far more to the language and culture than just the spoken words, I added the other parts and progressed more quickly.
3.Start with some children’s books to make it fun and feel a sense of accomplishment. If you see success early on you are more likely to stick with your studies. Plus the fun, colorful pictures will aid you in remembering the words much better than a dry, black and white textbook will.
4. Practice in a real environment. Now maybe a plane ticket to China isn’t in your budget but I’ll bet you have a Chinese restaurant or a Chinatown not too far away. My brother (who has never even been out of the USA) loves to impress the staff at the local China buffet with his basic Mandarin and chopstick using skills!
5. Find a study partner. When I started learning Mandarin, I teamed up with a partner for weekly study dates. This was very helpful for both of us and motivated us much more than if we would have studied on our own. We helped each other create mnemonic devices for remembering words and characters.
6.Use flashcards. Use a bought set or make your own with some index cards. Write the Chinese character on the front and the pin yin and English translation on the back. Keep them handy so you can review when you have a few minutes that might otherwise be wasted like when waiting in the bank drive through or during television commercials.
7. Label items in your home. Take some self stick notes, write the Chinese character and pin yin on it and place them around your home where you will see them all the time and learning them will be super easy. I did this with just the pin yin when I started learning Chinese and it was very helpful. I am doing it again so that my two-year old can also learn the words easily.
8. Listen to Chinese music It’s so easy to learn the lyrics to every new song that we hear, so why not apply that to learning Chinese. Find a CD or two that you like and listen to them repeatedly. Take some time to read through the lyrics to better familiarize yourself with the words from time to time but just enjoy the music and immerse yourself in the language. Two of my favorites are Zhou Jie Lun and Wang Li Hong.