The Most Basic Chinese - All You Need to Know to Get By (Most Basic Languages)

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And in Taiwan, many people, especially older generations, speak Taiwanese. You may not be able to master the language without some serious study, but committing a few key phrases to memory will make a world of difference in interacting with locals. He advises that if you're going to attempt to learn a bit of Chinese, have fun with it — and don't be shy.

Don't be scared! You will be misunderstood. But then it'll gradually be less awkward on your tongue, and people will begin to understand you. They are spelled out in pinyin first with the phonetic pronunciation in parentheses. See-sow-jian zai na-lee? Use this phrase to ask the price of something at a street market in China, Taiwan, or Singapore. Pian-yee yee dian.

Learn Chinese for Beginners - Beginner Chinese Lesson 1: Self-Introduction in Chinese Mandarin 1.1

Combine this phrase with the one above and you're well on your way to becoming a fluent haggler in Chinese. It takes a while to get used to these components. I found that the efforts of teachers to explain these radicals and other components at the early stages of my learning were not to great avail. Only after enough exposure did I understand how these worked, and that sped up my learning of the characters.

When I was studying we had a wonderful book by Harriet Mills and P. It was called Intermediate Reader in Modern Chinese. The patterns were the frames around which I could build whatever I wanted to say.

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I have absolutely no sense of Chinese grammar, or grammar terms, yet I am quite fluent. I have seen books that introduce special grammar terms for Chinese. It is better to get used to the patterns that Chinese uses to express things we express in English, using English patterns. Chinese has a rather uncomplicated grammar, one of the pleasures of learning Chinese. There are no declensions, conjugations, genders, verb aspects, complicated tenses or other sources of confusion that are found in many European languages. Tip number three is to focus on patterns, write them out, say them to yourself, use them when speaking, and watch for them when you listen and read.

Read a lot. If I learned faster than my fellow students 50 years ago, it is because I read everything I could get my hands on. I read much more than other students. I am not just talking about special texts for learners, but rather a wide range of material on subjects of interest to me. I was helped by the fact that the Yale-in-China had a great series of readers with glossaries for each chapter.


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We started with learner material using something called Chinese Dialogues , then graduated to a graded history text called 20 Lectures on Chinese Culture. The book consisted only of texts and a glossary, no complicated explanations, no quizzes. When I look at some of the text books available today aimed at intermediate and even advanced learners, they are full of boring content about fictional people in China, somebody at university who met his friend or went to the barber or went skating, followed by explanations and drills.

Not a good idea unless you are interested in these subjects. This was a reader with authentic texts from modern Chinese politics and history. Each lesson introduced patterns and kept drills and explanations to a minimum. Or maybe I just ignored them. Yale had a wide collection of readers on politics, history, and literature, all with word lists for each chapter. This was my learning material. Tip number four is to read as much as you can.

This is much easier to do today. You can find material on the Internet, use online dictionaries and apps like LingQ. I tried to listen to whatever content I was reading. Reading helps you learn vocabulary, but listening helps you connect with the language and get prepared to speak. Listening comprehension is the core skill necessary in order to engage in conversation with people.

We learn the tone of each character as we acquire vocabulary, but it is difficult to remember these when speaking. It is important to internalize the tones as part of phrases. Listening helps you do this.

Basic Words and Phrases in Mandarin Chinese | Travel + Leisure

The intonation and rhythm of Mandarin, or any other language, can only come from listening to the native speaker. Nowadays you can find these online, including the transcripts and even import them into a system like LingQ. This was not available to me 50 years ago. Consider signing up for a language course.

If you need some extra motivation or feel you would learn better in a more formal setting, try signing up for a Chinese language course. With the growth of Asian neighborhoods around the country, many classes taught by volunteers have popped up. You can also try an online Mandarin school. Look out for language courses advertised at local colleges, schools or community centers.

Basic Chinese Words

If you're nervous about signing up for a class by yourself, drag a friend along. You'll have more fun and someone to practice with between classes! Watch Chinese films and cartoons. This is an easy, entertaining way to get a feel for the sound and structure of the Mandarin Chinese language. If you're feeling particularly proactive, try pausing the video after a simple sentence and repeat what has just been said. This will lend your Chinese accent an air of authenticity!

If you can't find any Chinese films to buy, try renting them from a movie rental store, which often have foreign language sections. Alternatively, see if your local library has any Chinese films or ask if they would be able to source some for you.

Listen to Chinese music and radio. Even if you can't understand everything, try to pick out keywords to help you get the gist of what's being said. Get a Mandarin Chinese radio app on your phone, so you can listen on the go. Try downloading Chinese podcasts to listen to while exercising or doing housework. Consider taking a trip to China.

Once you feel comfortable with the basics of Mandarin Chinese speech, consider taking a trip to China, or even Taiwan. What better way to immerse yourself in the Mandarin language than a journey to its native land! Don't be too harsh on yourself. Learning a language is a gradual process - you have to keep at it. Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn, so take your time.

What is the best way to learn Mandarin Chinese as a beginner? Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Tips Edit If you can, taking at least an introductory course on Mandarin at your school or local college can be an excellent way to be confident and accurate in your pronunciation and tones.

Getting the basics down can help you have a good springboard for further studies on your own. Make sure the course is conducted in Mandarin and not in English. English teachers who go to teach in China are expected to speak in English, not Chinese. By and large, Chinese people are very proud of their culture, and enjoy helping people learn their language.

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Don't be afraid to ask for help or practice with a native speaker. Persistence is key! If you think you know a lot, be sure not to just stop reviewing and studying it, you will forget what you have learned. While there is much disagreement about romanization of Chinese and the use of such systems, learning the Pinyin system can prove invaluable if you intend to type in Chinese on a Western keyboard. Tones and pronunciation are very important in Chinese. When learning new vocabulary, take some extra time to practice the tones.

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