How to Learn Chinese by Yourself: Useful Tips for Self-Education

Bodhi Ramos11 min
Created: Nov 24, 2023Last updated: Jan 11, 2024
 How to Learn Chinese

Mastering the language on your own without additional help is challenging but achievable. Therefore, many people now prefer self-learning due to the convenience and mobility this approach brings. Chinese Mandarin stands out from other languages due to its difficulty, but it’s still possible to study it independently. According to statistics, approximately 1.1 billion people globally speak it, so such knowledge might be helpful in multiple instances. Students search for the best way to learn Mandarin, and we are here to assist you with some tips. 

Of course, mastering a language requires a lot of time and practice. However, you will be surprised how much you can do when you have a goal and the desire to reach it. Catch the best ideas for learning Chinese Mandarin and start your language journey now.

Prepare to Learn the Chinese Language and Set Goals

Motivating themselves to master the language is among the critical priorities for beginners. There are multiple reasons to learn Chinese, including getting a job within the country, the desire to explore the Asian culture, and many more. Mandarin is among the most spoken languages globally, so those who’ve reached an appropriate level of fluency can easily communicate with lots of different people.

So, first of all, set the goals and find a motivation to start learning. After that, sit down and create a lesson plan. Of course, getting professional tutors’ assistance is always possible, but self-study Chinese is also available. Persistence is essential for every student. On the other hand, forming appropriate learning plans is also critical for those who want to achieve the desired result as soon as possible. Take a look at the points below to know what to start with and get the answer to the question of how to learn Chinese quickly and efficiently.

Learn the System of Characters First

In many aspects, Chinese is entirely different from other languages, but its system of characters is the primary thing that learners notice. It’s the first topic to master; even though it’s complicated and time-consuming, persistent students can succeed in this issue. At first glance, it appears difficult, but being attentive to details and memorizing at least a few hieroglyphs a day will yield the necessary results.

A syllable is the largest integral unit in Chinese; each of them corresponds to one written hieroglyph. It’s important to memorize their pronunciation and practice regularly. Pinyin implies Chinese hieroglyphs written in the Latin alphabet. It was developed to simplify mastering letters for English speakers. Ensure you memorize everything necessary, as moving further is only possible when you already know the basics.

Importance of Tones: Primary Tips to Learn Chinese

It’s another aspect that will help you understand the basics of this language and know how to pronounce syllables and words correctly. Chinese has five tones; let’s look at some examples:

  • [mā] – mother (first tone);
  • [má] – hemp (second tone);
  • [mǎ] – horse (third tone);
  • [mà] – scold (fourth tone).

At first look, it appears confusing because many of the terms sound similar but have very distinct meanings. It’s easier to sort everything out after dipping into language learning. Mastering tones is essential to understanding Chinese speakers, so start with this topic as soon as possible.

Listening to native speakers and repeating after them is an excellent idea for learners. In this case, you will be able to understand and memorize the right pronunciation. Making mistakes is typical for beginners, so ensure you have enough practice. Take advantage of podcasts or video lessons for learners, as they will speed up the process and help you understand the language better.

Pay Special Attention to Grammar

This aspect is critical when learning any language; Chinese Mandarin is no exception. Considering this point is important, as it would be complicated to proceed with further education without it. Grammar is not difficult to learn, but it does require time. Take a look at what you need to think about: 

  1. Pay attention to the basic rules of forming sentences.
  2. Consider the correct word order.
  3. Learn how to form questions.
  4. Master the basic possession rules.
  5. Distinguish the parts of speech.

There’s a stereotype that Chinese Mandarin has no grammar, but it’s a false opinion. Otherwise, learners wouldn’t have made any mistakes and could have mastered the language in a few months. Using additional materials for learning Chinese grammar is a great idea. You can search for workbooks online; remember to do at least some exercises daily to memorize all the necessary information. Note that it’s best to dive into Mandarin grammar once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, such as simple words and phrases.

Start with the Simplest Topics

Mastering the language is a long process, so hardly anyone anticipates they will be able to discuss business or stock markets in a month. Therefore, memorizing simple words that will be helpful in daily communication is essential. Greetings, numbers, time, seasons, expressing gratitude, and many more are the basis of learning Mandarin Chinese. 

Try to memorize as many words as possible daily. Moreover, you should better consider the context when these wordings are used to make it easier to implement them in your speech and writing.

Learners usually search for the easiest way to learn Chinese. Unfortunately, becoming fluent in one of the most difficult languages in the world is challenging. Instead, students should divide their educational process into blocks and stick to the initial plan. Learning is challenging, but the results are worth it. Regularly replenishing the vocabulary will lead to quicker reaching the desired level of fluency in the Chinese language. And it’s time to move to the next step.

Find Out How to Form Sentences

Having many words in your vocabulary is important when mastering any language. However, the ability to create phrases and sentences is even more critical for learners. Therefore, consider the basic rules of Chinese Mandarin and implement them in practice. Overall, the principle of forming sentences is similar to that in English: you should first place the subject, then the verb, and the object. Let’s consider some examples for your better understanding of this topic. 

  1. 我吃早餐 [wǒ chī zǎocān] – I am having breakfast.
  2. 我喜歡散步 [wǒ xǐ sànbù] – I like walking.
  3. 我要訂餐 [wǒ yào cān] – I want to order food.
  4. 我愛我家人 [wǒ yào cān] – I love my family.
  5. 我需要幫助 [wǒ xūyào zhù] – I need help.

Learners should start with the most uncomplicated phrases and then pass to something more complex. Use online dictionaries and manuals if you need help; you can find plenty of online resources that will assist you in strengthening your Chinese speaking and writing skills and boost your knowledge.

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Get as Much Practice as Possible: The Best Method to Learn Chinese

Ideally, dipping into the language environment is the best idea for those mastering Chinese Mandarin. Such an approach allows learners to communicate daily with locals and perceive speech by ear. In such a situation, a person will be forced to start communicating and practice their conversational skills to integrate into society quickly. However, this option is not available to everyone. 

There are many other ways to practice Chinese, even without visiting the country. Grab some ideas on how to strengthen your speaking skills: 

  1. Communicate with like-minded people who are also involved in language learning.
  2. Get a tutor who will help you improve your pronunciation and general skills.
  3. Find online communities where you’ll get the chance to keep in touch with natives.
  4. Speak out loud in front of the mirror.
  5. Find videos and repeat after the speaker.

All these little tips will help you boost your vocabulary and strengthen your speaking skills. Regularity is the key to success, so remember to devote at least some time to learning daily. Combine learning with your daily affairs: for instance, listening to a podcast when driving to work or listening to songs in Chinese are great ways to boost your language knowledge. Self-learning can be efficient and bring the desired results, but being persistent and motivating themselves is vital for every student.

Speak Out Loud and Record Your Speech

Such an unobvious method will help you improve your pronunciation. Those taking lessons with a tutor can ask them to correct mistakes, but what should self-learners do in this case? Recording the speech and listening to it afterward is the best way to learn Chinese and correct yourself if something goes wrong. This method allows students to compare the record with the proper pronunciation and elevate their speaking skills. 

Boost Interest in Learning Chinese

Simply memorizing words and sentences is not always exciting, so why not combine your hobby with mastering the language? Take a look at several ideas that can assist you in achieving your goals:

  • If you like books, choose some simple ones in Mandarin and enjoy reading while learning something new. It might be challenging to understand everything at the beginning, but take a dictionary and don’t forget to highlight the unknown words. Reading books can help you memorize new expressions quicker, as it provides the chance to see them in context. 
  • The same works with movies. Are you a passionate cinema lover? Turn on an exciting film or video in Chinese and enjoy your pastime. For beginners, it makes sense to turn on the English subtitles, as they boost the understanding of the plot. Like with books, you can write down the new wordings and Google their meaning. 
  • Cooking is another way to strengthen your language skills; Chinese cuisine is so unusual and delicious. Search for some recipes in Mandarin when mastering the food topic and prepare a wonderful dinner. You’ll know the names of the ingredients for a tasty dish, which will replenish your vocabulary little by little. Try to find different dishes and explore more words to strengthen your skills. 

Of course, dipping into the language environment is the best way to learn Chinese Mandarin sooner. Imagine yourself traveling to Beijing: you will be forced to communicate with different people. In this case, you will quickly learn how to say good morning, greet people, ask the way to the hotel, and many other issues. So, those who have the chance to visit China shouldn’t miss it. Despite the chance to strengthen your speaking skills, you will have the opportunity to explore the country’s famous sights and ancient culture.

Set Realistic Goals

Mastering any language in one month is impossible, which especially concerns Chinese, which is difficult. Therefore, don’t hurry up and don’t try to learn everything as soon as possible. Give yourself time to understand every topic and repeat the material if necessary. Concentrating on the result rather than on the time spent on learning is better. In this case, students are usually more successful in studying Chinese Mandarin. 

Being inspired by the educational process is the best tool a person can implement to achieve success. Combine Chinese classes with your hobby and get maximum pleasure when learning. Self-study is an excellent idea, as you can develop the plans yourself and highlight the most exciting topics. Use the above tips and stick to your initial learning program to get maximum benefits.

Master the Language with Guided Courses from Promova

Mastering Chinese independently is possible, but additional help is also a great idea. Promova offers guided courses with plenty of new words, speaking exercises, and engaging quizzes for every student. Interacting with the platform is convenient, as you can use the web version or download the language learning app for more convenience. Well-thought-out classes and engaging tests are the best ways to increase excitement and boost motivation among learners.

Highly experienced tutors developed the lessons. Moreover, they constantly improve the available materials so that users get the best tips and practices. The platform provides all the necessary materials for exciting interactive education. Learners can enjoy the free version or subscribe to the premium to get even more benefits. Mastering the Chinese language with guided courses from Promova is an excellent solution for students of all levels.

Conclusion

Starting with the basics is essential when mastering any language, and Chinese is no exception. It has numerous dialects, and Mandarin is the most widespread option. English speakers usually learn it to boost their career prospects and get the chance to communicate with more people without any barriers. Self-learning is available for everyone, as numerous materials are accessible online absolutely for free. 

It’s crucial to master the system of characters and tones, which are critical in the Chinese language. After that, learners can come to the more complicated topics; use our step-by-step guide on this page to create the lesson plan. Getting additional assistance from experienced tutors is also a great idea, providing you with lots of exciting details and accelerating language studying. Now, you have the answer to what the best way to learn Chinese is, and you can start mastering it immediately.

FAQ

How many characters does Chinese Mandarin have?

Overall, Chinese Mandarin has over 50,000 hieroglyphs, which places it among the most difficult languages to master. A well-educated country resident uses around 8,000 characters, but it’s enough for a student to learn approximately 3,000 of them. In this case, you will be able to communicate with the locals and read newspapers. However, the proficient level requires a more profound knowledge and a richer vocabulary.

Which additional sources should I use to master Mandarin faster?

Taking personal lessons or guided courses is a great idea to boost your knowledge. Moreover, every student should use online dictionaries to find out the meaning of new words and replenish their vocabulary regularly. The best sources for those learning Chinese include the Written Chinese Dictionary and Yellow Bridge.

What are the countries where Chinese is widespread?

Mandarin is the second most widespread language globally after English. Around 1.1 billion people in different countries speak it. Countries where the language is common include Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Moreover, statistics indicate there are over 3.5 million Chinese speakers in the United States. Such figures are impressive, so it’s not surprising many people choose it as their second language.

How many dialects does the Chinese language have?

This language can be divided into five major dialects, and Mandarin is the most widespread option. Others include Cantonese, Hakka, Xiang, and Wu Chinese. All types have lots in common and depend on the region. It’s worth noting that students don’t need to master all the peculiarities of all the dialects, as Mandarin remains the official language in China, Singapore, and other countries.

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