Chinese Language Blog

Tips for Learning Chinese Posted by on Jan 25, 2022 in Language

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A famous Chinese proverb says: 好事多磨 (hǎo shì duō mó). 好事 means good things, means a lot, and means to grind, to rub. It comes to say that good things do not come without toil. Realizing your dreams involves much work, and that’s certainly true of Chinese fluency.

The Foreign Service Institute of USA rated foreign languages at four levels, based on the average length of time it will take for an English native speaker to achieve proficiency. According to this scale, category IV is the highest and includes “the languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers”. Chinese is among them.

Now, I don’t know if Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn, but I do know that learning a second language, any language, is a journey. A long journey. A journey without a finish line. An endless journey. And although it feels frustrating at times, it is actually pretty exciting. Because it is a journey of progress. You will celebrate significant milestones on the way, and you will enjoy your own development of the language. And you will still expect the next step.

Here are three tips for language learning:


Ràng zì jǐ chén jìn qí zhōng.

Immerse yourself in it.

Put the language in your ears, so you will soak in the pronunciation, the rhythm, the intonation. Put the language in your eyes, so you will soak in the style, the wording, the syntax. Put the language on your tongue, so you will soak in the character. If you can’t travel to the country that speaks the language (语言 yǔ yán), do your best to immerse yourself where you are: TV, movies, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, restaurants, music, classes, language exchange, art, etc.


Zhuā zhù rèn hé de jī huì qù liàn xí.

Take any opportunity you can to practice.

With a partner or alone, with a textbook or without, at a desk or by walking, any opportunity to practice is a good opportunity. I really enjoy Chinese music and it helps me to practice Chinese characters: I used to write down song lyrics on a piece of paper, sitting in a bus stop while waiting for the bus to come. These random ten minutes in my schedule of concentrating on writing did magic to my 汉字 (hàn zì, Chinese characters). You don’t need a clean desk, an expensive textbook, or a full day. All you need is your passion.


Yào zhǎodào shìhé nǐ de jiùxíng.

Find what suits you.

It takes time to figure out the best learning method for yourself. Along the way, through the journey of learning a foreign language (外语 wài yǔ), you will find your own way to make progress. Many share their ways of becoming Chinese fluent online, but you will stick to only what works for you. And even then take it step by step. Remember – it’s a long journey, you’d better enjoy the way. We are here to help: use our free service of Mandarin Chinese Word of the Day to enrich your vocabulary, and follow us on Facebook.

This TED speech by Lýdia Machová articulates well the enjoyment and the individualism of language learning:


Text vocabulary

语言 yǔ yán = language

外语 wài yǔ = foreign language

汉字 hàn zì = Chinese characters

沉浸 chén jìn = to immerse

练习 liàn xí = to practice

磨 mó = to grind, to rub

抓 zhuā = to grab, to catch

机会 jī huì = opportunity



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