New Year’s Resolution – Learn Chinese Posted by sasha on Jan 15, 2018 in grammar, Vocabulary
The start of the year is a popular time to work on some New Year’s Resolutions (新年计划 – xīn nián jì huà). As Ayana discussed in her recent post, some popular resolutions are to lose weight or quit smoking. If you’re reading this blog, then chances are one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to learn Chinese (学习中文 – xué xí zhōng wén). With its complex characters and tones, Chinese can be an intimidating language to attempt. We’re here to help you start the year off right and get your Chinese studies rolling. Here are some tips and resources to help you learn Chinese in the New Year.
If you’re a beginner to Chinese, you’ll want to do the same thing that little Chinese kids do and start out by learning Hanyu Pinyin (汉语拼音 – hàn yǔ pīn yīn). This is basically the phonetic alphabet for Chinese, and it’s a lifesaver if you’re just getting started and don’t necessarily have time to put in the hours every day to learn the characters. Of course you should do that eventually, but if your goal is to get started speaking sooner than later, pinyin is your best friend.
Focus on the Most Common Characters
You really can’t learn Chinese without the characters, so you might as well start out with the most common ones. Thankfully we’ve already done all the ground work for you! Check out our post on the 100 most common Chinese characters and make flashcards or do whatever works for you to get them down. You can even follow along with our 5-part video series for more practice:
Master the Tricky Tones
It’s no secret that the Chinese tones can be tough at first. Unless you’re coming from a background with a tonal language, it definitely takes some getting used to. It’s almost as if you’re singing when you’re talking! We have a couple of posts that will get you well on your way to mastering the Chinese tones:
- Learn the Chinese Tones: Get introduced to all four tones plus the neutral tone in this post that goes into detail about the way your voice must rise and fall depending on the tone.
- Tricky Chinese Tones: Of course, there are plenty of exceptions when it comes to using the Chinese tones. Learn about the most common ones here.
- Working on Tones with Tongue Twisters: What better way to practice your tones than to try out some tongue twisters? Give them a try and see how you do!
Learn How to Introduce Yourself
It’s hard to get far making conversation if you can’t even introduce yourself. You’ve got to start somewhere, and giving your name, hometown, and job is something you’ll have to do over and over again anyways. Learn how to introduce yourself in Chinese in this post and then follow the video for more practice.
Figure Out the Measure Words
Chinese is full of measure words, which can seem daunting at first. That is until you take a step back and realize that English is full of measure words as well – one pair of pants, three cups of water, a school of fish. The list goes on and on. Study these 10 must know Chinese measure words to start and then be sure to pick up others on a weekly basis.
Have a Chinese Immersion Day
Most of us will make a resolution to study a new language for an hour or two every day. That’s all well and good, but the best way to really learn a language is to immerse yourself in it. I went ahead and made a great plan for you to have an excellent Chinese immersion day, so include it in your resolution and give it a chance in 2018.
Learning a language can be difficult and frustrating. As such, it’s important to make it fun! Burying your head in a textbook trying to learn grammar rules or writing Chinese characters for hours on end just isn’t going to be fun. It’s important, but it sure isn’t fun! There are many ways to make learning Chinese fun – do a language exchange, listen to some Chinese music, watch a kung fu movie in Chinese with English subtitles, or even learn how to sing and dance the “Little Apple” song. There are tons of ways that you can make learning a language fun, so use them to mix it up.
Of course, I have to give a shameless plug for my own work and the hard work of everyone else on our team here. There are tons of resources at your fingertips to help you in your quest to learn Chinese, for example:
- Chinese Word of the Day – Learn a new word every day of the year!
- Language and Culture Blog – You’re looking at it now! Subscribe to the blog and get posts to your e-mail.
- Facebook Page – Read interesting articles, look at photos, and join in the discussion with 100,000 people!
- Twitter – Receive updates in real-time by following us @chineselanguage.
- YouTube – I post 3 videos to the YouTube page every month, so subscribe and make sure you never miss one!
There’s never been a better time than 2018 to learn a new language. You’ve got so many resources at your fingertips (most of them completely free!) and you’re connected to people all over the world. Travel to China is cheaper than ever and several cities are introducing visa-free visits for anywhere from 3-6 days. Now get out there and crush it and learn Chinese this year!