Friday, April 15, 2011

Hints For Learning Chinese

By Benjamin Rowe

No one would claim it's easy to learn Chinese, especially if you are starting from scratch as an adult. Yet it may not be as difficult as you think. Like most knowledge building, this particular skill needs to be built by taking it one step at a time. If you are patient and stay the course (and use the suggestions in this article) you shouldn't have any difficulty learning Chinese.

When you begin to learn Chinese, the best way to get more exposure to the language is to watch movies. There are lots of great Chinese movies to watch in addition to the time honored kung fu movies that are so popular. Just be sure that the movie features the dialect you are studying (some kung fu movies, for example, especially earlier ones, are Cantonese rather than Mandarin). No matter what kind of movie you typically like using them to get used to hearing Chinese is a good idea. You can watch your favorite movies again and again, using the subtitles less and less over time. This is a great way to learn Chinese.

A fantastic way to learn Chinese is to take a trip to China or somewhere else that China is the primary language. Not everybody can do this, obviously, but it is a great goal to have while you are learning the language. If you do take one of these trips it is better to take one with a tour that focuses on using the language (or to find a language school) because, with so many locals learning English, you'll find that most people you meet will want to practice English with you instead of letting you practice Chinese with them. Lots of Western people like to visit Hong Kong but the Chinese spoken here is Cantonese and most people are good with English thanks to long periods of being ruled by the British. If you are studying Mandarin, your best choice is to visit the mainland of China.

Lots of people, when they begin to learn Chinese (or any language) discover that they have some fears about making mistakes. This can be the biggest block to picking up a new language. It is very important that you practice and that means that you need to get used to making mistakes before you can make any good progress. Whether you are in a class or practicing with a tutor forget about being perfect and just try your best. In most cases, people who speak Chinese will be impressed that you are trying to speak their language, and they'll help and encourage you. If you think that you can wait until you are fluent in the language to start using it in conversation, you are going to be waiting a long time since making mistakes is the only way to truly learn how to speak Chinese.

In summary, you have to approach learning Chinese like you would any challenging subject. Instead of focusing on fluency (which can take many years) focus on learning little bits each day. Take all of the opportunities you can to learn and to practice, no matter which source your opportunity comes from (book, class, tutor, chance encounter). These tips on learning Chinese can be helpful as you work to learn this challenging but beautiful language.

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