How to Learn Mandarin
There are many ways to learn a language and obviously it’s different strokes for different folks. You have a few types -:
Auditory learners – will gain new skills through listening to podcasts, audiobooks or other forms of audio engagement. Preferring to HEAR what they want to learn. They also prefer to recite vocabulary out-loud
Visual learners – Prefer to see the information, they will learn from video and graphics. They want to see visual relationships between your points.
Reading/Writing learners – These guys love to read and write while they learn. Copying out what they have taken in and repeating it all internally.
Kinesthetic learners – These types prefer to learn with hands on ‘doing’. They need activities and actions to make stuff stick. Typically experimental learners.
Ok and then…?
well, depending on what type of learner you are you can employ various techniques to maximize your learning proficiency. Let’s start with some great tips…
Decide on what your focus will be. Conversational fluency? Reading and writing? Poetry? Business level? Then map out a good course for that.
Easily the best way to learn a new language is to find a language exchange partner who wants to learn English as much as you want to learn Mandarin and speak until your ears fall off. Have sessions with each other where you will take it in turns correcting each others mistakes and pick each other up on pronunciation.
There are many Foreign language groups on Facebook you can join to find native Mandarin speakers who want to learn English. Honestly there are hundreds of people shouting out to find someone with a passion for learning the language doing daily call outs for genuine people to help.
I have found this, personally, the best way to learn. Speak and make mistakes, get corrected, make more mistakes, get corrected again and again until it sticks.
Private or Group Tuition
If you cannot find a native speaker who wants to language exchange right away then you can always go down the teacher route. While you may not like a classroom style session, many teachers offer a free chat style session where you can apply a Chinese only rule.
Pleco is an Chinese dictionary App. It goes on your phone. Install it and keep it there. While you are speaking to your native speaker you will need it.
Watch & listen
Try and listen and watch to a lot of the target language. Jump on Netflix find a Mandarin speaking show and turn off the subtitles. Watching something you have seen before helps because you already know the context. For example, Disney movies are easy to follow. Pick out the words you know.
Listen to podcasts on the way to work and back. Emersion in the language will really help. Even if you don’t understand it at first, you will start to learn the languages cadence.
One of the hardest things to overcome when learning Chinese is the frustration. Finding ways to battle through them is the key. Having a rest day. Changing focus completely. Watching a new show or just having a bit of a break does the trick.
I find watching other people who have successfully learned another language motivated me to give it another try.
CHINESE ONLY DAYS
So this is probably the single biggest tip I can give you. Once you have found a language exchange partner (who is positive, not easily deflated, and helpful) you need to set up an English only day for them and a Chinese only day for you. That means, every Wednesday you will think and speak ONLY IN CHINESE, the whole day.
If you don’t know a word while you speak to him/her then look it up in Pleco or use Google translate. If it’s wrong they will correct you.
You need to keep this up for a number of hours, teach your brain to learn the language and start to refer to Chinese as a viable option.
Studying books is fine for some and is good to reference the finer points in grammar as you get more advanced. But I would heavily suggest to steer clear of complex grammatical rules while you start and just try and pick up the sentence structure through practice.
Try different mediums
Don’t give up if you don’t like books. Don’t pack it in if you haven’t found a gripping sci-fi drama series that you love. If you cannot find someone to talk to straight away don’t quit the group! Keep trying. Rest for a day. but pick them all back up on day two and try again.
Books, Youtube, Podcasts, Live sessions, go to the local takeaway or ‘China town’, articles, blogs, language exchange groups on Facebook.
end of part 1