How to Learn to Speak Chinese

How to Learn to Speak Chinese

Learn to speak Mandarin Chinese in a much shorter time by focusing on what’s most important!  The truth is that I could never have learned to speak the language without the help of a very wonderful teacher who showed me what were the most important components of the language!  So, I’m going to share those essentials with you now!

If you want to learn to speak Chinese fast, then there are several basics that can help you on your journey to learn Mandarin!  Many beginners what to know how to learn Mandarin Chinese without doing the work that it takes OR without even having a plan for their learning!  If you want to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese, then placing the proper emphasis on each of these most important components is vital to your mastery of the language.

MOST IMPORTANT is mastery of the four tones.  (See How Difficult is it to Learn Chinese? if you need a review of the tones).  Once you have this, everything else seems to fall into place.  Mess this up, and it will take you years to get to a place where native Chinese speakers understand you!

SECOND MOST IMPORTANT is your mastery of the PinYin system of phonetics.  You must know how to learn Chinese PinYin because this is your code book for making sense of the language.  Chinese does not have an alphabet.  Instead, characters are used as a picture to describe an idea or thought.  That character is then given a sound (like reading a picture) and that’s why you must learn Chinese PinYin.  PinYin is the system that helps us make sense of the sounds so that one day in the future, we can not only understand the spoken language, but can also be able to understand the written language.

Learn this system by practicing it every day.  Strengthen your tones by using each of the sounds to practice your four tones.  “Sing” each of the tones on every single sound.  That means that you will have practiced each tone with each sound.  When you “sing” all four tones with each sound, you learn the tones so much better & soon can speak the difference AND hear the difference between each of the tones.  (Basically, you’re on your way to accomplish the MOST IMPORTANT step extremely well)!  J

THIRD MOST IMPORTANT is your ability to listen.  The grammar, the daily phrases, distinguishing the tones, and an understanding of the culture will only come by LISTENING and OBSERVING the world around you.  Being a learner in your attitude, words, and actions will enable you to adjust to the greatest language and culture of our time!


Watch the Video on How to Learn to Speak Chinese

(aka the “PinYin Song”)

If you want to know how to learn Chinese quickly, then take it from me that spending a few minutes daily will soon be worth its weight in gold!  Focus on the essentials!  Learn Chinese PinYin online and soon you will find that you know how to learn Chinese in five minutes a day without breaking a sweat!

“Sing” yourself to the mastery and freedom of the language by practicing each of the four tones for every PinYin sound!  It may sound strange to you—it may even seem ridiculous, but let me tell you that focusing on the few simple basics will help you to achieve the result you are looking for!  Take it from someone who has walked this journey before—this is the pathway to success!


For brief, but crazy video on PinYin Singing . . .


Use the following PinYin chart to help you in singing the song!


Notes on Initials and Finals

  • INITIAL + FINAL = one sound in Chinese (or one character)
  • But, I’ll teach you the FINALS first because they are most like our VOWELS!  J
  • INITIALS never truly come by themselves!  They are always accompanied by a FINAL, so you will see that the FINAL is written for your convenience in parentheses.
  • Usually, it takes two or more characters to form a WORD or a COMPLETE THOUGHT, but only one character is needed for an IDEA or an abbreviation of a word.




“ah” as in a-hah!


“aw” as in awful

(mouth forms half long o sound)


 “ehhhh” OR “uhhhhh”  (the sound you make when something is really gross!)


“ee” as glee


“oo” as in spoon

ü ***

(see below)


“ai” as in aisle


“ei” as in eight


“wei” as in weight


“ow” as in owl


“oa” as in boat


“you” as in you


“ye” as in yet


“you+e” as in you + “e” as in egg


“ar” as in art


“won” as in wonderful


“you+in” as in you + “in” as in inside


“on” as in on


“un” as in under


“een” as in seen


“ong” as in song



“ung” as in sung



“eing” as in seing



“own” as in owner


***The HARDEST sound!  Say “ee” as in seek, but make your lips form an “oa” sound as in boat.  The combination of the two give you a sound close to “ye” in English, but very nasal and for a sustained period of time.



b (o)


p (o)

m (o)

f (o)

d (e)

t (e)

n (e)

l (e)

g (e)

k (e)

h (e)

j (i)

“jee” as in jeep

q (i)

“chir” as in cheap

x (i)

“shee” as in sheep

zh (i)

“jer” as in jerk

ch (i)

“chir” as in chirp

sh (i)

“shir” as in shirt

r (i)

“r+ir” as in “r” as in red + “ir” as in dirt

z (i)

“ds” as in hands

c (i)

“ts” as in hurts

s (i)

“s” as in serve

y (i)

“ee” as in seek

w (u)

“w” as in womb


As mentioned above, INITIALS never truly come by themselves!  They are always accompanied by a FINAL, so you will see that the FINAL is written for your convenience in parentheses.  You will find that the two first rows are VERY similar to the English consonants.

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