How to Learn Chinese Language
Knowing how to learn Chinese language begins with the fundamentals of the language, mainly the Chinese tones and the Chinese alphabet or PinYin. Having these down will boost your Chinese skills to a level you never before thought possible!
How to Learn Chinese Language with Tones
If you’re just starting out pay close attention to the details of the language! Knowing the difference between the tones—that means both in listening and speaking them—is the key to learning the Chinese language. If you have this, you will be light years ahead of everyone else!
So, how do you become familiar with these tones enough to be able to distinguish one from another?!
First, you need to at least have a general concept of the differences between the tones.
(For a brief description on each of these tones, see Mastering Chinese tones).
How to Learn Chinese Language with PinYin
Second, you need to daily practice (I know, not too many people want to hear that!) singing the tones AND the Chinese alphabet so that you are proficient at speaking. There’s nothing worse than learning a language and having such POOR pronunciation that no one can understand a word of what you’re saying!
There are a few videos on YouTube about the PinYin song that are rather helpful in getting acquainted with the sounds of the language, but I have yet to find one that seriously helps you in learning the tones well! Yet, your daily practice of the fundamental tones is what will bring you success in Mandarin Chinese, so I’m still working on a good solution for that!
How to Learn Chinese Language by Listening
Third, listen, Listen, LISTEN! I cannot stress this point enough! Surrounding yourself with the language will be the surest way to progress and become fluent in the language. Visit your local library and see what they have in the way of foreign films. If not much is offered, check out the videos that you can purchase online at a fair price. At first, you’ll need subtitles, but later you can push yourself to try to understand the context by watching without English subtitles.
What about listening to music? In this case, you will hear the sounds, better understand the culture, but will probably be far from acquiring the tones simply by listening. The reason for this is that, in general, songs are devoid of tones, causing even the native speaker to want Chinese subtitles just so they can be sure they are correctly interpreting what they are hearing.
Summary of How to Learn Chinese Language
In summary, in order to learn Chinese as a language,
- study the tones,
- learn the alphabet through the PinYin song, and
- keep on listening!
You’ll be amazed at the progress you’ll make in just a few short months. Keep learning Mandarin—you’ll be glad you did!