Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by asifa
For many, the path of learning Chinese with a tutor is littered with broken glass: people walk along it, get hurt and suffer. The guide below will clear the way for you and give you directions. In it, we have collected a lot of resources and tips that will be useful at any level of language proficiency. So get comfortable and 我们走吧!
Table of Contents
By the appearance of the hieroglyph, it is impossible to determine its pronunciation. Therefore, sound and writing in Chinese are two different worlds. You can speak fluently on everyday topics but still not be able to write and read.
Chinese is not one language but a whole group. Usually, they are called dialects, but many are so far apart that they are more like separate languages. A speaker of one dialect will not understand a speaker of a southern dialect. There, as well as in other Asia and Taiwan, Putonghua, or Mandarin in English, is recognized as official. It’s spoken by the majority of the Chinese population – 65%. In total, there are ten large groups of languages in the PRC, which give 266 dialects. At the same time, different dialects use the same script. Therefore, even if their carriers do not understand each other verbally, they can explain themselves with paper and pen.
The language is famous for its complex hieroglyphic writing. The difference between them and a letter is that the last one refers only to sound, and the hieroglyph refers to sound and meaning. The simplest hieroglyphs are called pictographic. These are schematic drawings of objects of the surrounding world. More complex signs have nothing to do with the appearance of what they stand for. Such hieroglyphs as a constructor are made up of constituent parts – graphemes. It is easy to memorize the entire character from them. It is enough to know 3000-3500 hieroglyphs for fluency in the language. In this case, the word sometimes consists of several characters. Therefore, having learned 3000 characters, you can make several times more words out of them.
One of the main difficulties for all beginners in learning Chinese is tone. You may have already heard horror stories about the fact that “without an absolute ear for music, you won’t be able to learn Chinese.” It is not the case – tones are available to any person. Each character represents a syllable, and tone is the change in pitch within a syllable. There are four of them in total, plus one neutral one, which sounds muffled, and the rise of the voice does not change. Knowing tones is crucial because they affect the meaning of a word. The syllable “ma”, depending on the tone, might mean “mother”, “horse”, “hemp”, and the verb “scold”.
Get busy every day. It is critical. Without daily practice, knowledge will leak out of your head like water through a sieve. Therefore, 20 minutes daily is better than a five-hour marathon on Sunday.
Without a teacher, it isn’t easy to control oneself. When difficulties begin (and they will), you will need to stop the lesson for the evening, for tomorrow, for the next week. Thus, “later” may never come. To avoid this, box yourself in. Make a schedule and stick to it. It will help you separate your learning from the rest of your life and make classes a special ritual.
When you first start learning Chinese, you must learn a lot of new information: unusual sounds, tones, characters, and keys. But then the core of knowledge will grow faster and faster – like a snowball rolling down a mountain. It’ll become easier to memorize new characters when you understand what they consist of. And with speech perception, there will be no problems when you master the tones and other things.
The most compelling motivation for learning a language is sincere interest. With it, you do not have to force yourself to learn, and you’ll learn new words from textbooks and various sources. So if you started learning the language not out of love for the language or culture but for practical reasons, try watching TV shows, listening to music, and reading literature. In general, find something that will hook you.
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