Approaches for Beginners to Learn Chinese-Shanghai Meizhi Mandarin School (Xuhui District)
Thursday, 14 December, 2017 Reply to:
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Get some materials. Textbooks are okay, as long as they have dialogs with a recorded version. If you are convenient, choosing a Chinese school to help learning not a bad way.
Do a significant amount of input (reading and listening) with this beginner material. This is the hard bit, where the language gradually becomes less “foreign” – in other words, you get used to the language. To make rapid progress, try to dedicate at least 30 minutes a day (an hour is better).
Work the language into your life. I’m not really an advocate of ignoring your friends and family who don’t speak the language, or listening to the language while you’re talking to them and while you sleep (per AJATT), or changing the language on your computer and phone into Chinese – this is too annoying for me. Instead, make use of dead time. Do you daydream on the train/bus? Now you listen to Chinese. Do you wait in lines? Now you listen to Chinese while you wait in lines. Do you walk the dog? Paint your house? Daydream? Listen to Chinese while you do these things. You’ll see how easy it is. I would estimate that the average person has about 1-2 hours a day of dead time, this meaning time they do NOTHING else. If you studied Chinese only in the time you otherwise would be wasting, you will see massive progress. Now imagine if you fit some Chinese into your free time, too?
Two words. Mini goals. Learn 30 words a week, and then step it up after a couple of weeks. Listen to 30 minutes of Chinese a day – then step it up to an hour incrementally. I’m soon to write an entire post over on my own blog dedicated to explaining the importance of mini goals.
Characters. Forget about them for the first month. After that though, they are important. Spend 15 minutes a day learning them. Although it may seem tedious, it’s worth learning the radicals first, or as you encounter them – this will enable you to quite accurately guess new characters later on.
Get an SRS. Do your reps daily, and add sentences whenever you can. Also, I’ve found sentences are better than words, as you learn grammar and new vocabulary simultaneously – it also seems much less boring than just drilling single words. If you have the option/can be bothered, add sentences with audio so you do’t get a botchy pronunciation (or just do a lot of listening). Where to get sentences? Mine them from the dialogs in your textbook, from your Chinese teachers, wherever. Just make sure they are correct!