There’s nothing more amazing and exhausting than learning something new and challenging. How about learning Chinese language? A new language opens doors to a whole set of experiences and the ability to explore a new culture like never before, that’s not even counting the new career prospects it brings.
So welcome to the gang of the worlds most-spoken language! Chinese Mandarin is spoken by 1.2 billion native speakers, that’s roughly 1 in 6 the population in the planet, and this number doesn’t even take into account second language speakers.
However, not to discourage you, but alongside being one of the most spoken languages, it’s also thought to be one of the hardest. But don’t worry. We’ve got your back!
One: Set realistic goals.
I don’t want to disappoint you, but if you are a beginner do not expect to be fully fluent in a year. But don’t feel bad about that! Think back to your childhood, how long did it take you to learn your mother tongue and feel comfortable? Don’t be too harsh on yourself and set realistic goals. Think about Why you want to learn Chinese and set goals around that.
For example, I wanted to learn Chinese to be able to read restaurant menus on my own for when I arrived in Beijing. Every month I created small goals of different menu options and grammar structures that I needed to be able to speak and read, my overall big goal was to have a conversation about food by the end of the year. Keep yourself motivated with small goals to pave your way to language learning success.
Two: Don’t stop, use dead time.
Learning Chinese is like climbing a mountain… whilst on skis! So as soon as you stop learning, you start going downhill again. There are many apps out there that slowly build vocabulary every day, the best thing about them is that they provide 10-minute bite-sized exercises so you have no excuse to keep on top of your Chinese. This also makes it easier when you are busy and don’t have an hour to spend studying. Use up dead time and turn it into a language learning opportunity, download podcasts, watch YouTube videos, the options are endless, there are many resources out there!
Three: Set aside some time, get support.
Although you may be busy, try to set aside some time just for Chinese learning where your whole focus in on learning the language. This can be done alone or with a tutor, which we suggest. Learning Chinese is not an easy feat, the characters must be written in the correct order, the tones said in a certain way, it’s hard to do it on your own so getting a tutor will make it easier. They are like your personal language trainer. Whilst you are at it, join some Chinese language learning groups of students at the same level as you that way you can help each other keep motivated and gain some extra knowledge.
Hope you’re super excited about learning Chinese. Before we leave you, did you know that learning Chinese can actually make you smarter? Speaking Mandarin Chinese uses both sides of your brain because of it’s tonal and pictographic characters, as opposed to for example English that only uses one.