It is a common assumption that Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn. In a way, this belief is correct. There are no alphabets in the Chinese language; it consists of non-alphabetic symbols known as “characters”. These characters are supposed to be learnt by heart by going over them consistently. To be fluent, you need to keep reading or writing down these characters for an extended period.
Here are some tips to help school children learn Chinese quickly:
1. Learning to speak before learning to write
Young children studying Chinese should opt to learn to speak the language before learning to read and write it. Vocalizing the words can be rather tricky, but it is still easier as compared to learning to read and write a thousand different symbols. Although most institutes focus on both written and spoken Chinese, it is for the learner to assess their capabilities and to decide which option is more effective for them.
2. Be conscientious of the tones
When learning Chinese, you have to be really careful about the tones in which each word is pronounced. If the tone of a word is pronounced incorrectly, the meaning of the word might become completely different. For example, the word “ma” can have several meanings based on how it is expressed or pronounced. For instance, in different contexts, it may stand for mother, horse, or to give a scolding. This attribute of Chinese is not found in any other language, so it can be tricky to grasp when the learner is not familiar with its nuances.
3. Understanding the Grammar
Chinese has the easiest grammar as compared to all other languages. The sentence structure of this language is similar to that of English and includes no conjugations with verbs in any case. Gender is not defined, and nouns have no plural forms. However, the language does include past, present and future tenses. People who have learnt French or Spanish before will find it easier to pick up different aspects of the Chinese language.
4. Practice on your own
It is common for new learners to get conscious while speaking Chinese. They feel uncomfortable sounding out unfamiliar words when speaking in a language other than English. They tend to get confused quickly and speak hesitantly for fear of making mistakes. The best way to overcome your qualms is to practice speaking Chinese in front of a mirror so you can also monitor your body language and boost your confidence.
5. Make friends who are learning Chinese
Stay in contact with other students who are learning this language as well. By conversing to them in Chinese, you’ll be able to grasp the language. In the company of other learners, you won’t feel self-conscious even if you make errors while speaking. You could consider forming a study group where you can discuss problem areas and concepts that you find difficulty grasping, and then overcome those barriers with mutual help. In such sessions, speak only Chinese; don’t use English as a crutch or you will never be able to speak the language properly.
This is a great way to practice speaking and learning Chinese.
6. Watch Chinese movies or TV shows
The best way to become familiar with the Chinese language is to watch Chinese films and TV shows. This way, you can better understand the exact tone and pronunciation of different words. Listen to radio shows, songs and audio clips for further assistance. This is a very fun and entertaining way to go about learning Chinese.
7. Go with the easier version of Chinese language
In order to increase the literacy rate in China, the government has come up with an easier version of Chinese language. In this style, there is a reduced number of strokes a person has to learn in order to sound out different words. This has made it easier for the students to memorize the characters.
8. Get an experienced Chinese tutor
One of the most effective ways to master any language is to hire a private Chinese tutor who can help you in numerous ways. Experienced Chinese tutors start by reviewing your current standard in the Chinese language, before preparing individualized worksheets and training for you to pick up the language and get speaking in no time.
That’s it! All these tips can help young students and adults learn Chinese quickly and effectively. 加油!