Knowing Chinese makes you sexy, rich and happy :)

Starting out with Chinese

November 5, 2007 – 9:49 pm

This is for all the newbie learners of Chinese. Those who still have to learn their first words of Chinese want to know how to approach the language. And yes, learning Chinese is different from learning most European languages (I assume You are a native English speaker).

What are the problems?

When You are learning Chinese, You are not learning one language, no, You are learning two. You are learning the spoken language and the written language which has nothing to do with the spoken. John DeFrancis tries to tell us otherwise, but I’ll prove this guy wrong in a later post.

Chinese is so different from any European language that You have to get used to it’s sounds, to the different way of writing and a different grammar. Listen carefully and speak a lot, then You can get that speaking and listening beast down.

What to do?

When You are about to start out with Chinese You should properly organize Your learnings to get going.

Go to a Chinese class

You definitely want to join a Chinese class when You are starting out. A teacher can show You how a sentence is made up with Chinese grammar. A teacher will correct You when You are talking and help You get rid of any misconceptions. You will also learn the tones. And this is really important. I think it’s almost impossible to get the tones right without a teacher. If You learn the tones wrong in the beginning they will follow You like a cures for a very long time. You will have to invest lots of energy to remove the wrong learned and correct it. So get a teacher in the beginning for the sake of correct tones.

Later, when You already know some stuff, the teacher will be the person who can help You with Your individual weaknesses. While You can practice Your Chinese with Chinese friends, these friends often won’t be able to explain grammar points to You.

Get some Chinese friends

While a teacher is good for special questions, a class is often to expensive for simple language practice. Therefore I recommend to get Chinese friends or a language partner. Hint: There are many lonely Chinese woman seeking for a white guy. Take this chance to learn and have a nice time at once. You can try out things You have learned in class and chit chat with them. A big plus about Chinese friends is, they are less formal than a teacher. You can pick up some slang words or less formal variants of what has been taught in class.

Listen to Chinesepod is a great source of podcasts that will help You to improve Your Chinese. They have lots of audios You can listen to for all stages of learning. From total beginner to advanced learners. The audios are for free, if You want the advanced services You have to pay a fee. There are also other companies offering services like Chinesepod. However my favourite is Chinesepod as it is a fun and complete resource to build a confident Mandarin Chinese skill.

Take notes

I can’t stress this enough. Write down things You learn. Questions that come to Your mind. Sometimes when I go to sleep and a question comes to my mind, I stand up again and write it down. This has been really helpful to me. Also, when You see some hints about something while browsing Your favorite Chinese learning website. Take a note.

Use all the learning material You can get a hold on

There are so many resources out there for learning Chinese. And You definitely should make use of them. I’m going to talk about learning materials in a future post. There are many useful websites. You should get a dictionary and a learning book. A electronic translator can also be very handy once in a while.

Get going

There is absolutely nothing that can or should stop You from learning. Only a very small investment is to be made and one will receive big returns. Get some motivation to learn the language. Here are my reasons to learn Chinese:

Don’t wait! Get going! You will be rewarded!

  1. 3 Responses to “Starting out with Chinese”

  2. You might want to double check this list

    衣 = clothes (not ear)
    耳 = ear (not fine silk)

    There might be more mistakes, haven’t checked all.

    Oliver from

    By Oliver on Nov 15, 2007

  3. Thanx for Your comment Oliver.

    I just quick checked these two and You are right. I will re check everything once I’m back home. Currently I’m in university and have a class.

    Seems like I need a proof reader once in a while. I’ll go over the post and correct it once I’m at home.

    By YoLearnChinese on Nov 15, 2007

  4. 哈哈,你学习中文的理由倒是很有趣。
    (reasons to learn Chinese are interesting)

    By ChinesePodReview on Dec 1, 2007

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