Before learning Chinese, it’s good to get to know what’s in store for you. Chinese is a language that is both easy and tough to learn, depending on your perception.
Still there are some things that are essential to the language, such as the sentence order, the characters, and the different tones. If you know these things in advance, you’ll have an easier time learning this interesting language.
This article will breakdown some of the things you’ll need to know and think about, before learning Chinese:
- Learning Chinese is a Fulfilling Pursuit
- Chinese is a Tonal Language
- Learning the Chinese Characters
- Hire a Specialised Tutor
- Chinese Word Order
- You Should Have a Purpose
- Concentrate on Listening and Speaking
Learning Chinese is a Fulfilling Pursuit
Learning a new language takes effort, patience, and willingness to learn from mistakes. Believe it or not, it’s also a fun and rewarding journey! Whilst many people consider Chinese to be a difficult language to grasp, it’s definitely not as tough to begin learning as some people tend to believe!
For instance, after only a few months of study, many students are able to ask for directions, travel, order food, talk about their interests, and even have basic conversations with other learners and native speakers.
Learning The Basics Will Open Doors For You
The rewards don’t end there! The name “Standard Mandarin” literally means ‘common language. This name hints that, as a national dialect of China, Mandarin is a generally spoken language. Data collected by Statista also shows that in 2021, Mandarin has over 1.1 billion speakers globally. Meaning that it’s the second most spoken language in the world!
This is another reason why learning Mandarin is so rewarding. Knowing how to speak this adaptable and intriguing language, even just the basics, will open doors for you. Especially when it comes to traveling around China and exploring the culture. China has become an international economic and business superstar. Being able to communicate in Mandarin will be an enormous tool for you to use in your professional life.
Chinese is a Tonal Language
Just like Thai and Vietnamese, Chinese is also a tonal language. Mandarin is the most typically spoken language, especially in China’s northern parts. There are four tones in Mandarin, and the change of tone connects to a change in meaning.
As an example, the term ‘ma’ means mother in the first tone. It translates to ‘numb’ in the second, ‘horse’ in the third, and ‘to scold’ in the fourth.
Therefore, knowing the tone is very important in order for you to avoid making mistakes during conversations. Understanding the tone ranks higher than memorising Chinese characters and learning the grammar.
Learning the Chinese Characters
Next to the tones, you should also know the Chinese characters. This will aid you in reading texts the same way that the tones will help you formulate and verbalise sentences. It could be a massive task because overall there are over 50,000 Chinese characters.
But not to worry. You don’t have to memorise them all. An educated Chinese person has knowledge of about 8,000 characters. You need to learn around 2,000 to 3,000 characters before you’re able to read Chinese texts. Nowadays, most Chinese language learners only know how to speak Chinese. In short, It’s best that a learner begins to learn reading and writing in Chinese early in life.
Hire a Specialised Tutor
You don’t have to struggle to learn the language on your own. Also, you don’t have to overcomplicate your learning by studying with a class. Rather you can get 1 to 1 personalised lessons.
At Learn&Co you can hire professional Mandarin tutors that can tailor lessons to your suitability. These online language tutors are trained and know how to make your language learning journey easy. They’ll provide you with resources that will benefit you. Above all, it will save you the hassle of searching for supplies. Furthermore, you study at your own pace with flexible timing.
Chinese Word Order
Part of the confusion in learning Chinese is the word order. It’s similar to what you’re used to if you’re an English language speaker. The basic sentence is subject + verb + object (SVO). While this is a good starting point, in most cases, the subject is not as clear in Mandarin as English. Mandarin sentences are more focussed on topic.
Moreover, changing the word order provides a distinct meaning to a phrase. For example, the usual greeting “nihao ma” translates to ‘how are you?’. It will mean ‘Mother, you are great’ if you change the order into “ma nihao.”
You Should Have a Purpose
Although it’s a difficult language to learn, it’s not an impossible task to do. However, you need to maintain focus. You should be positive about your purpose to learn the language. This will give you the right motivation to study.
Language learners will encounter challenges at any and all levels. That’s part of the process. Remember that this is normal, expected, and always an opportunity to remind yourself why you’ve chosen to learn the language.
Concentrate on Listening and Speaking
As a beginner, the areas that you should concentrate on are listening and speaking. At this stage, Chinese characters won’t help you learn the proper way to pronounce Chinese words. When you reach the advanced stage, then you’ll learn to write Chinese characters. At the beginning, it’s best to learn how to engage in conversation, as pronunciation is very important in this language.
If you haven’t had a chance to practice your Chinese aloud with another person, you may find, for example, that you’re using incorrect tones, which will make it difficult for your conversation partner to understand what you’re trying to say. Therefore, it’s very important that you set aside and commit time each day to both listening and speaking Mandarin.
If you’re determined to learn the Chinese language, you should start learning now. We hope this article has helped you as you begin your studies. If you’re looking to enhance your learning experience, even more, remember that you can hire a tutor from Learn&Co. This will make your language learning journey simple. Our qualified Mandarin tutors will help support and motivate you, giving you all the resources to learn as efficiently as possible.