Let’s be honest: learning Chinese can be difficult at first. Of course, there is pronunciation and grammar, not to mention Chinese characters!
If you are wondering how to learn Chinese, you are not alone. People ask us all the time how we learned Chinese, so we decided to share some of our suggestions with you:
5. Find a Chinese-speaking Boyfriend or Girlfriend
We don’t usually recommend learning Chinese (or any language) from your significant other, but sometimes it works! Have them speak to you in Chinese at home and label all household objects in Chinese on post-its.
You will also have plenty of learning opportunities if his/her family does not speak English. Toast each other with some 白酒 báijiǔ and practice your Chinese. (The 白酒 is helpful for confidence in speaking.)
Before you reach for the 白酒 though, you might want to read up on Chinese drinking culture.
- Pros: Life becomes one big Chinese lesson, all day every day!
- Cons: Learning from your partner may put unnecessary strain on the relationship (trust us, we’ve seen it happen).
4. Watch TV to Learn Chinese
Find an interesting show on YouTube or a similar Chinese video platform (try iQiYi, TengXun, and YouKu for starters). Most shows have Chinese subtitles, which can help with understanding dialogue when you are just starting to study Chinese.
You can start with some shows for children, and graduate to TV dramas and Chinese soap operas. If you're totally lost, we have a couple recommendations you can check out.
- Pros: Great for listening practice.
- Cons: No one to correct your mistakes.
3. Teach Yourself How to Speak Chinese
Buy a Chinese learning textbook and go through the lessons on your own (even better if the textbook comes with an audio CD).
- Pros: You can take your time studying each lesson. You can also focus on the material you find most relevant and interesting.
- Cons: It may be hard to find a reputable textbook. No one to correct your mistakes. Also, staying motivated and keeping up your studies consistently may be more challenging.
2. Take Chinese Classes
You can study either privately or in a group. Personally, we recommend a group if you are just starting your Chinese journey; the camaraderie that classmates provide can make the initial learning curve less intimidating.
- Pros: Learning in a formal environment offers structure and keeps you accountable to studying. You also have an experienced teacher to correct your mistakes and explain difficult vocabulary and grammar.
- Cons: Requires an investment of money and time.
1. Best Way to Learn Chinese? Immersion!
Move to China! Surround yourself with a Chinese environment and start doing life in another language. When Chinese is the only language you speak and hear all day, you will pick the language up much faster. You will also notice that you understand more and more as time goes by.
- Pros: Moving to China is the adventure of a lifetime! You get to meet new people, experience a new worldview, enjoy delicious food, and so much more!
- Cons: Moving to a new country with a new language and culture can be difficult. You may feel a range of emotions, including loneliness and frustration.
Individually, these are five simple suggestions on how to learn Chinese. However, we challenge you to combine these to give yourself a language learning super-power!