8 ways to simplify your Chinese language learning

by Izabela Wisniewska

For some, the idea of learning Chinese is an impossible task. Many English speakers feel that because Chinese is so different from the European languages in form and style that everything about learning Chinese must be difficult and alien.

However, this is not the case. Learning Chinese is not really any different from learning any other language. Although, learning a language can still be a challenge unless you know how to go about it and what can be done to simplify the learning process.

These are the eight things that will help.

1. Positive Mind-set

First, put yourself into a positive mind-set. If you remain positive and tell yourself you can do it you will give yourself the drive to continue and ultimately succeed. It won't matter how many text books you read or how much practice you do, if you don't think believe you'll succeed.

2. Traditional or Simplified script

Investigate whether you should learn the traditional or simplified Chinese script. The simplified script was introduced to China in the 1950's as a way of increasing literacy, and as such generally has fewer strokes than the traditional Chinese script. The version that is best for you can depend on many things, such as geography and how you intend to use it, so you may feel it is best to learn both. The simplified script is used in China and Singapore, and the traditional script is used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

3. Sensible Goal Setting

Don't try and build Rome in a day. Set yourself daily or weekly tasks such as learning thirty words, or ten characters. Give yourself achievable goals that will increase your understanding of Chinese without putting you under too much pressure. If you're not achieving your goals, don't be afraid to change them accordingly.

4. Planning

Learning a language is like any other task, in that it requires planning. Project and resource planning tools such as Kanban and Trello, can be used to set out your learning plan, study tasks and goals, making sure you remain on target, focussed and not get swamped down in details. Check this guide to find out how these tools can be used together, to plan your learning program.

5. Learning Resources

Invest in resources such as textbooks, and mobile phone apps. Textbooks are likely to have more base information, but do not overlook the interactive nature of apps and software. Ultimately, any tools you can utilise to increase your learning should be looked at and used.

6. Spaced Repetition System

Specifically, Spaced Recognition Software is something that has been proven to add in learning and memory, specifically when attempting to learn large quantities of items, such as vocabulary and language.

7. Immersion

Try to immerse yourself in as much Chinese language as you can. Watch Chinese TV programs, listen to music, speak to natural Chinese speakers, anything you can do to involve yourself in the Chinese language will allow your mind to put the language you're learning into real-life context and to further your understanding.

8. Practice

This is the big one. You must practice whenever you can. Whenever you get a spare moment, such as when you're sitting on the bus, or sat in a traffic jam run through characters, words or conversations. It doesn't have to be full blown learning routine, but even casually running through things can help to cement your understanding of the language.

Learning Chinese is no different from learning any other task. If you make sure you go into it with a positive outlook, plan well, set appropriate goals and continue to practice there's no reason why you can't be fluent in Chinese.

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