Learning Mandarin Chinese: 3 key things to consider

by Yang Yang

Learning Mandarin Chinese can be achieved in a variety of ways. Yet, sometimes, when too many choices are on offer it can be confusing for the new student.

So, why not make learning Mandarin Chinese easier for yourself by following the advice, informative pieces and tips we regularly offer at Learn Mandarin Now.

As a starter, in this post we are going to consider 3 key things we often get asked about:

1. Learning Mandarin Chinese in China

Many of those students we have interviewed or exchanged emails with who are learning Chinese, especially those who have reached an advanced level (ie close to being a native speaker), tell us the same thing:

…Namely that, to really get ahead with learning Chinese they decided to go and live in China or had been living in the country previously for a relatively long period of time. Clearly, living in China not only allows you the convenience to practice and use your Chinese language skills, but also gives you an opportunity to understand and learn about Chinese culture and etiquette, plus discover idioms or Chengyu—all of which have to be positives, but which can be quite challenging to learn for those who study outside of China.

If you are really committed to learn the language, learning Chinese in China is no doubt the best and most effective way!

Some great tips to help you make the most of your experiences in China include the following:

(1) Best places to practice your Mandarin Chinese

For places such as Hong Kong, Shanghai or Beijing, which are more international, local people are more likely to talk to foreigners in English than Chinese. To avoid this “language battle” in daily conversation, some foreigners chose to live in certain second tier cities such as Chengdu where English is not so widespread and they will have more chances to practice Chinese. Plus, the living cost is much cheaper than in the larger cities!

(2) Don’t just mingle with foreigners when in China

You can see many foreigners in China just go to western restaurants or expat bars, and, if you do the same, the chances are you will end up only speaking English. In some ways, just like those Chinese people who only stay in Chinatowns around the world and still speak poor English after living abroad for many years. You don’t want to be like that, right?

(3) Find a Chinese tutor

Instead of going to a school to learn Mandarin, which might be expensive, one of the best things to do is to find a Chinese private tutor easily at a reasonable price — “1 on 1” learning has proven to be an effective way to improve your Chinese quickly!

2. Choosing the right resources (but they do not have to be expensive)

For those who cannot go to live, work or study in China to upgrade their language skills, choosing the right resources is very important.

For example, Italki is a tool which many people have recommended as it enables students to find a native speaker to practice with at a relatively cheap price. If your budget is tight, don’t get the wrong impression that you need to spend a fortune to learn the Chinese language, as there are ways and means to do otherwise.

In fact, if you are looking for some free or cheaper resources to improve your Mandarin Chinese, it’s well worth looking at one of our earlier articles: the research we undertook for How to learn Chinese the way 50+ top bloggers do, as this can point you in the direction of more than a hundred free or relatively low cost resources.

3. It does not happen over night

No matter whether you are working with a private tutor or have decided to learn by yourself, becoming fluent in Mandarin Chinese cannot be achieved overnight—despite the fact that there are lots of blogs or courses which claim to be able to help you “master” the language in 7 days, a couple of months or whatever short period they promise.

However, after speaking with many of those students who have actually achieved an advanced level, it’s clear that it takes many years to really learn the Chinese language. So, if you are serious about learning Mandarin Chinese, then there is no better time than today to get started!

Still not sure about the best way to begin? Well, we provide lots of great tips and advice to help you on your journey to learning Mandarin Chinese so please feel free to ask us any questions about learning the language and we will be happy to help!

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Also by Yang Yang
I Want to Learn Chinese, Should I Learn Mandarin or Cantonese?


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