Mandarin Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn. But did you know that English is one of the top 3 hardest languages to learn as well? That’s right. If you can read this and understand this, then you can learn Mandarin Chinese. To help you succeed, here are 3 tips you need to know.
It’s Tonal, but Don’t Over-do It
Yes, I said it. Mandarin Chinese is a very tonal language, but don’t over-do your tones. There are four tones that your listeners use to understand what you are saying. And yes, it is important to say those tones. If you use the wrong tone, you might very well end up calling a mom a horse.
But, just because it’s important to use these tones, it doesn’t mean that you have to be so focused on it that you over emphasize the tones. See, the same thing happens when you being to overly worry about the tones. You won’t be understood. Listen to some Chinese speakers and you’ll see that they just talk, they don’t worry about the tones as they speak. And in reality, the tones vary slightly as you speak, depending on what you are saying. Sounds complicated, but it’s not really. The best way to learn these tones is to listen and parrot what you hear. Listen to individual tones and then listen to phrases with several tones in it to see how the tones work together. Listen and parrot.
Practice Every Day
Practice makes perfect the saying goes. And learning a new language is no exception. If you use it, your brain will make it easier for you to re-use it when you need it. But if you don’t use it, you’ll lose the connection. It’ll still be in your brain, but you’ll find it harder to remember. You don’t have to spend an hour grueling over pronunciations or characters. No, just a simple 15 minutes a day using the language is all you need. Practice a new character a day. Learn how the character works in sentences. Learn how to write it. These all add up.
Link What You Are Learning to Something You Already Know
Lastly, use what you already know to help you. Link the new things to something you already know. It will help you remember it. For example, when it comes to the tones, you can think of the third tone as a banana. Hold a banana sideways and curving up and you’ll see a third tone. You have to dip your tone down and then up again like the banana.