Methods to Start Learning Mandarin-Chinese
Mandarin-Chinese is regarded as one of the most challenging languages in the world to study but there are different things that you can do at the important beginning stages to set a solid foundation for learning. The ideal thing to do is to spend 3 – 6 months in an intensive study period at the start where you are doing nothing but working on Chinese and living in China or Taiwan. Of course though, this is not practical for everyone to do so below I have included some broad suggestions that can work in either an intensive or easy-going study setting.
1) Learn the PinYin method and beginner pronunciation
PinYin is basically how the Mandarin-Chinese words and sounds are expressed in the western alphabet. When you are introduced to pin-yin you will also learn about the 4 tones of Chinese and how several sounds are made. This is a solid place to start and you will probably also get some simple words.
2) Phrases for getting around and beginner dialogues
Some classes will then move onto a big list of vocabulary words to memorize. I instead advise that you switch over to a Asia travel phrasebook and take out of there a lot of basic phrases and sentences for getting around. These examples are usually rich with solid vocabulary and are a good idea to memorize. Having some of these sentences at your fingertips will ensure that you can begin using Mandarin in your everyday life as soon as possible.
3) Focus on essential ‘sentence-making’ words
It upsets me how many classes and textbooks wait to teach relevant words and phrases. As soon as you have a big list of words active vocabulary list you can start using them like building blocks to build simple sentences. Although you will probably still have problems with grammar some of these easy ‘transition’ words can be extremely frequently-used as you try to communicate with others.
4) Learn the stroke order and basic radicals of Mandarin-Chinese characters
As a result there are many technologies available to learn Chinese on the ipad or iphone, some people are tempted to forgo the process of learning to draw Chinese characters by hand. This is a dumb idea since the actual process of moving your hand and feedback from the paper and paintbrush actually helps to store the characters in your mind. It’s quite strange that such a basic thing as moving your hand can aid with memorizing the characters.
5) Practice each and every day for 15 minutes
After doing most of the above, you need to get into a regular habit of studying Mandarin every day. What you want to do is aim for at least fifteen minutes and that can even be just before sleep. The crucial part is to commit to doing it every day to ensure that you have daily exposure.
6) Get a language partner or private instructor
As you continue learning in class or online, it’s important to start expressing yourself by speaking the language in face to face conversations. There are good sites to help you get language exchange partners where you can even find teachers. The important part here is to find a issue that will force you to start speaking, even in basic sentences, just so that everything you study can start to form in your mind as real communication.
If you follow up these tricks with a solid program and discover ways to pursue your natural inclincation, just in Mandarin, then you should find several ways to spice up your Mandarin language program. If you like country music, then listen to that in Chinese. If instead you like to read car or business magazines, then look for those in Mandarin. You will have zero problems absorbing the language and learning better than your classmates. Have fun.