The Starting Point for Learning Chinese
Congratulations on starting to learn Chinese! It is your prudent perspective on the future and desire to learn more that will propel you forward in learning the Chinese language! Your decision to continue in this language is what will allow you to see great results in the coming days!
How to Get Started: An Overview
Knowing how the Chinese language is different from English is the first step toward success in Mandarin Chinese! Knowing and embracing these differences will lead you on to be able to determine which are the most important aspects of the language and how you can take action to accomplish these aspects. Below are some of the main differences.
- This language focuses on ideas rather than individual words.
- Chinese characters are the way to express these ideas.
- Others will only be able to understand your Chinese when you use tones that are a lot like singing.
- Mandarin Chinese has four tones.
- Once tones are mastered, PinYin will be the best way to master Chinese sounds.
Getting Started: The Fundamentals
Tones are the key to being understood in the language. If you cannot sing your words as you are speaking (or worse yet, say them with the wrong tone), virtually no one will be able to understand what you are saying. I know this idea is difficult to swallow, but it is so important! It’s exactly the same feeling for a Chinese listener as it is for you when you are listening to someone whom you know is speaking English, but you can’t understand a word of what they’re saying because their accent is so strong! Therefore, please keep this in mind so that you can have success in speaking Chinese! (Listen to the four tones).
Learning PinYin will then be the next fundamental for learning the Chinese language. PinYin is the romanization of the sounds that are used when Chinese characters are read. These are much like the letters or letter combinations of the English language, and can be broken down into two main categories. Initials are much like the consonants of Chinese while the finals are much like our vowels.
Once you are aware of these concepts, you’ll need to identify your purpose for learning Chinese. If you want to be able to speak, then focusing on tones and PinYin will be the key to your success! When you have mastered these, you can then move on to phrases and sentence structure.
How to Get Started: Basic Structure and Vocabulary
Basic phrases will help you in acquiring the vocabulary you need in order to navigate through Mandarin Chinese. The exciting fact is that Chinese vocabulary is much easier to learn and retain than English terms. That is because the names for objects are very intuitive because they are a combination of thoughts that help you understand the use of the object.
So, you will probably start with important phrases like “Thank You in Chinese” and “You’re Welcome in Chinese” or other such phrases that you will probably simply memorize. Then, basic vocabulary (like the ten most-used verbs, subjects, time phrases, and locations) will help you have the building blocks you need for simple sentences. Of course, knowing in which order to place these building blocks will be important, but not difficult to learn.
How to Get Started: Unlocking the Mystique
Once you have tones, PinYin, vocabulary, and basic structure down, you’ll be ready to discover the mysteries of this beautiful language through Chinese characters! Even though this stage may be reaching in a year or two, it’s still an incredibly rewarding aspect of learning the Chinese language!