Once you’ve mastered basic Chinese phrases and pronunciation, it’s time to start listening. You can find plenty of podcasts to help you practice your Chinese. Watching TV shows and movies with Chinese subtitles will also help.
Learn the Basics
While many language learning methods encourage learners to start speaking immediately, it is essential to remember that listening lays the foundation for any new language. For that reason, it is best to cram as much Chinese audio into your daily routine as possible. It can be done through a variety of free resources online. Listen to some Chinese podcasts and a simple sentence-building vocabulary app for beginners. A solid base of essential words and phrases will help you understand more of what you hear in real life, so it is well worth the effort. You can also listen to a Chinese radio or television station. Their content is often bilingual and includes transcripts that you can read alongside the audio. Alternatively, you can browse YouTube channels that provide videos about China and its culture. Both are great for beginner and intermediate learners alike. In addition to these resources, I recommend trying some Mandarin classes in Seattle. They are more structured and offer a syllabus so that they can be a valuable supplement to your other resources.
Listen to Audio
Unless you have a native speaker friend or tutor who can speak to you in Chinese specifically for your level and interests, getting meaningful, comprehensible listening practice as a beginner will be hard. It’s even more complicated for beginners to understand spoken Chinese with little scaffolding, like images and body language. However, there are a few resources that can help. Podcasts offer weekly authentic Chinese audio and role-play conversations at a pace accessible to beginners. They also broke down Chinese expressions and idioms and interviewed Chinese learners who shared their experiences and tips. Other resources use dialogues and vocabulary adapted to beginners’ language levels and use the neuroscience-based Spaced Repetition System to ensure that you review characters, phrases, and vocabulary at times when they are most likely to stick. Another great option is using an audiobook player, which has an extensive collection of Chinese instruction and leisure books readily available to beginners.
While listening to audio and reading are great ways to start building up your Chinese vocabulary, learning new words through rote memorization is also essential. It is true of written Chinese, which is more complex and requires a stronger memory than spoken Chinese. It is a perfect opportunity to use mnemonics to your advantage! Because written Chinese comprises components that can be rearranged and connected in many different ways, it lends itself to mnemonics. Try creating mnemonics for characters you’ve already learned, or practice writing the same characters repeatedly to help you memorize them.
Another good way to learn new words is by using the online tools offered by your Chinese learning platform. For example, some platforms allow you to create Chinese vocabulary flashcards with a single click or make Chinese antonyms and synonym worksheets. It is also a great idea to find native speakers willing to be your Chinese language mentors and ask for feedback on your work. They can give you a unique perspective on the Chinese language and how to learn it, and they can also help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Learn Chinese Characters
The linguistic building blocks of Chinese are called characters. They’re used to convey meaning, and they make up words that form phrases or sentences. Words are then combined to form grammatical concepts like nouns, verbs, and adjectives. When learning Chinese characters, it’s best to learn them through things you find interesting. It will help you remember them better, and it can also make the process fun! You can use your favorite music to practice or read a novel in Chinese. You can also use an app or website that helps you learn them. Make sure you study your characters carefully, including their stroke order. Also, if you see a component reappearing in different characters, try to figure out why it’s used – this can help you better understand that character’s meaning and pronunciation.
If you’re used to learning languages that require conjugations, tenses, and other rules, it may be surprising to discover that Chinese grammar is relatively simple. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy — especially at the beginning. However, for the most part, it’s far more straightforward to grasp than, say, a language like Sanskrit or Ancient Greek. One of the reasons is because it doesn’t have a lot of exceptions and advanced forms. It makes it a good choice for beginners to jump right into. It also helps that Chinese has no inflections, making it more analytic than a language such as Russian or Latin. You can find several resources to learn grammar. You could also use an online program such as GoEast, which incorporates self-learning through recorded videos & exercises and live classes with teachers. Using these tools, you can understand the grammar patterns in action and relate them to familiar situations.