Follow Us

Chinese-English idioms dictionary

A bilingual Chinese-English idioms dictionary is important for those who want to converse like a native-speaker. Some online idiom dictionaries – such as the one provided for free by Purple Panda

Read more

Mandarin flashcards online

Historically, flash cards have been used in every-day situations to memorize certain things of importance. The Purple Panda applications take this idea much further.

Read more

Some Tips and Suggestions to Learn Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is considered to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn – it is especially difficult to learn for English language speakers.  However, following some simple tips and guidelines, one can learn this language and even gain mastery over it.  The following are some basic tips, rules and suggestions that will help you learn Mandarin Chinese:

Mastering the basics

Practice the 4 mandarin tones

Practice the 4 mandarin tones

Mandarin Chinese is a language which relies greatly on tones.  Using a different tone can completely change the meaning of what is being said. For example, the pinyin syllable ma has 4 tones (actually 5 – but we will leave that for another day) and as you can see from the figure below its meaning changes substantially depending on the tone. Quite often novices Chinese speakers call their mother a horse – which can be a little embarrassing.

Thus,practicing the 4 major Mandarin Tones is an essential part of learning this language. The four tones are:

  1. High flat tone
  2. Rising tone
  3. Dipping tone
  4. Lowering tone

To learn these tones, you must listen to as much spoken Mandarin Chinese as possible. Listening to and practicing Chinese idioms can be a good way to learn how the tones link together across multiple characters. For example, try listening to the idioms入乡随俗 (ru2 xiang1 siu2 su2) or 大雨倾盆 (da4 yu3 qin1 pen2). Trying to memorize the tones from text will not be enough.

Learn simple vocabulary

Learn simple vocabulary

The best way to learn any language fast is by gaining mastery over the simple vocabulary first.  Some simple vocabulary that you must be familiar with are times of the day, food, body parts, days, months, weather, colors and directions.

 

 

Learn how to count

 Learn how to count

The third way to master the basics is to know and learn how to count.  The numerical system in Mandarin is logical and simple.  If you know the first ten numbers, then counting higher is not such a big problem.  Also make sure you learn these ten numbers with the right tone because as mentioned above, the wrong tone will completely change the meaning when learning Mandarin Chinese.

 

 

Learn some phrases used in basic conversation

 Learn some phrases used in basic conversation

Another important step in mastering the basics is to be able to say some basic phrases comfortably.  This is essential. Without being able to fluently communicate some basic sentences, it is not advisable to move ahead and learn harder sentences. Some basic phrases include:

Hello, what is your name?

Thank you

Welcome

Yes/no

Goodbye

I don’t understand

Excuse me.

You will find these types of phrases (and many more) in any good Talking Mandarin Phrasebook.

Advancing your language skills

Once you have mastered the basic aspects of Mandarin Chinese, it is time to move onto a slightly advanced level.  If you really want to learn the language well and move beyond basic conversation, you must step out of your comfort zone and increase your time and effort. Here’s how:

Study grammar

Study grammar

Grammar is the most important aspect of any language and the same is true for Chinese.  With the Chinese language there are no strict or complex rules relating to grammar such as gender, plural, agreement, conjugations and tense etc. Thus, for native English speakers construction of sentences is actually reasonably straight forward.  However, the flip side of the coin is that Mandarin Chinese has a set of completely different rules which you won’t fin

d in European languages or English.

Learn how to use Pinyin

 Learn how to use Pinyin

Pinyin is an important part of learning Mandarin Chinese. Basically, Pinyin is a system through which spoken Mandarin Chinese is written using Roman alphabets.  Thus, those who know Pinyin can use it to focus on their pronunciation without becoming confused by the characters of Chinese language (something which comes later).  Hanyu Pinyin is a common example of Romanization and can be easily found in many learning courses or textbooks.

 

 

Practice writing and reading Chinese characters

 Practice writing and reading Chinese characters

Speaking Chinese isn’t enough to become literate in Chinese – you need to be able to read and write Chinese as well. Writing practice is essential to gaining command over Mandarin Chinese.  Chinese characters, unlike English or Hindi characters are very complex and hence can create difficulty for learners.  Some people may even take years to learn how to write or read these characters as this takes practice, focus and a lot of memorization. It is believed that an educated Chinese individual knows about 8000 of these characters while some say that there are a total of 50000 Chinese characters.  To learn the radicals of these characters, you may need the help of guidebooks, tutors who can teach you the strokes and Intelligent Flashcard software that can demonstrate the order in which the strokes should be written.

Immerse yourself in Mandarin Chinese

Once you have learnt the basics as well as the advanced aspects of Chinese language, the next step for you is to use the language as much as possible. Implementation of knowledge is the best form of perfection and the following steps can be used to perfect yourself:

Find a native speaker

Find a native speaker

Practicing a language with native speakers polishes your own skills and also lets you know about your mistakes.  Conversing with a native speaker will help you correct your pronunciation and grammar. To find a native speaker to practice with, you can either contact a friend or find Mandarin Conversation groups in your area.  Another way to find someone who speaks Chinese is by going down to a Chinese restaurant and inquiring about the same.

 

Sign up for a Chinese course

 Sign up for a Chinese course

Another way to polish your Mandarin Chinese skills is by signing up for a Chinese course. Not only will the course help you in improving your skills but also encourage you to speak the language more often. A good course can really help you build confidence in your ability to speak Mandarin Chinese. You can either search for a course in your neighborhood, at the Chinese embassy or online. There are several Mandarin Chinese flashcards & online cours

es available which are almost as good as taking physical classes.

Watch Chinese cartoons and movies

 Watch Chinese cartoons and movies

Another interesting, fun and effective way to immerse yourself in Chinese langu

age is watching Chinese cartoons and movies. If your cable subscriber does not showcase these cartoons or movies, then you can either purchase DVDs or just watch them online. Try pausing between sentences to completely understand the meaning and try to repeat what is being said.

Listen to Chinese radio

 Listen to Chinese radio

Just like watching movies or cartoons, listening to Chinese language based radios or audio is another helpful way to surround yourself in the language.  This will make you even more familiar with the language and increase your fluency.

 

 

Take a trip to China

 Take a trip to China

The best way possible to practice the language and to test yourself is to take a trip to China!  There is surely no other way to perfect your skills than being among millions of native speakers.

 

 

Learn through Chinese Character Flashcards

 Learn through Chinese Flashcards

Use Intelligent Flashcards to support your other learning activities is known to be very effective and the same is true for those who are trying to learn Mandarin Chinese. You can install Chinese Character Flashcards on your iPhone or download them to your PC. Chinese flashcard software is an efficient and effective way to practice how to read, write and speak Mandarin Chinese.

Leave a Reply

INTELLIGENT TALKING FLASHCARDS: NEW PRACTICAL CHINESE READER INTELLIGENT TALKING FLASHCARDS: NEW PRACTICAL CHINESE READER
A$34.99 iOSA$34.99 PC
INTELLIGENT TALKING FLASHCARDS: INTEGRATED CHINESE (SIMPLIFIED)INTELLIGENT TALKING FLASHCARDS: INTEGRATED CHINESE (SIMPLIFIED)
A$24.99 iOSA$24.99 PC
TALKING MANDARIN PHRASEBOOK (ENGLISH) TALKING MANDARIN PHRASEBOOK (ENGLISH)
A$8.49 iOS