Top 5 Ways to Practice Speaking Chinese Alone
October 09, 2022
Being able to speak Chinese is often a top priority for most Chinese learners. Unfortunately, practicing Chinese with a partner is not always possible, and even when it is, some of us may not have mustered the courage and confidence to speak Chinese with others just yet.
Luckily, there are ways you can practice speaking Chinese alone, without a partner. In this blog, we will explore the 5 best ways for you to improve your Chinese speaking skills on your own, from building sentences to shadowboxing to using speech recognition software and everything in between.
How to practice speaking Chinese alone-Tip#1:Build sentences
Knowing all the vocabulary words required to pass the HSK won’t do much for your Chinese speaking skills unless you use them in your daily life.
The easiest way to start practicing speaking Chinese on your own would be to build sentences using newly acquired vocabulary. This method is generally more effective when the sentences you build are relevant to your lifestyle because they make the new words stick better. In case you don’t feel inspired, you can refer to sentence examples on Tatoeba or online Chinese dictionaries.
Once you feel confident building individual sentences, try combining them into a coherent dialogue that mimics a real-life dialogue. Doing so will help you get used to using Chinese words in a conversation, with the right grammar structures.
How to practice speaking Chinese alone-Tip#2: Read Aloud
Reading aloud is a reading method that requires the reader’s mind to translate the information consumed through the eyes into sounds using their lips, tongue, and vocal cords, which would then activate their auditory sense. Because reading aloud requires more effort than silent reading, it also often forces the reader to focus better.
If you’re a Chinese learner, reading Chinese texts aloud will help you get into the habit of speaking Chinese by training your mind to process the Chinese characters you see much quicker into speech. This means that the next time you’d need to speak Chinese, you will be able to do so more swiftly instead of staying stuck in your head. As for what should you read, you may use the sentences or dialogues you built previously or other Chinese reading resources.
In addition to boosting your Chinese speaking skills, reading aloud will also allow you to hear any pronunciation mistakes you may be making. Should you notice some wrong tones or pronunciations here and there, be sure to dedicate extra time to practicing saying the corresponding words.
How to practice speaking Chinese alone-Tip#3: Shadowboxing
In the context of learning Chinese, shadowboxing requires you to act out Chinese dialogues as if you were talking to a real person. It is a fantastic way to prepare for your upcoming battle: talking to a native Chinese speaker. This acting exercise is not only a great way to practice speaking Chinese on your own, but also an effective way to train your listening skills.
Here is how to shadowbox: listen to a conversation from your favorite Chinese TV shows and Chinese movies and repeat each line out loud. If talking to the wall feels awkward, try doing the exercise in front of a mirror. During the exercise, you should internalize every word and say it as if you meant it, rather than just parroting it back.
To get the most out of your speaking practice session, I highly recommend recording yourself as well so that you can listen to your speech, or maybe even asking your Chinese teacher or friend for feedback on your pronunciation.
How to practice speaking Chinese alone- Tip#4: Narrate
Another simple exercise that will help you practice speaking Chinese alone is narrating your daily routine in Chinese. In other words, whenever you open or close the door, you should say out loud 开门 kāimén or 关门 guānmén。 When you’re having breakfast, you should say 我在吃早餐 wǒ zài chī zǎocān. If you have a to-do list, try saying each task in Chinese as well every time you start or complete one.
Of course, you don’t need to do this all day, but the more you do it, the better. Not only will this help you develop your Chinese speaking skills on your own, but it will also train you to start thinking in Chinese.
How to practice speaking Chinese alone- Tip#5: Dictate, don’t type
Thanks to technology today, most mobile devices come with speech recognition software. As a Chinese learner, you can make good use of this feature to practice speaking Chinese on your own by dictating any Chinese text you need to input on your smartphone, Mac, or tablet instead of typing it.
So, the next time you need to write something on WeChat or another essential Chinese app, consider using this exercise.
Additionally, if you use a virtual assistant such as Siri or Alexa, you can set the default language to Chinese so that you would have to talk to it in Chinese.
To sum up, this blog covered the 5 best ways to improve your Chinese speaking on your own. Though they all focus on practicing speaking Chinese alone, some of them may also benefit either your listening or your reading skills.
Using a combination of these exercises will certainly build your Chinese speaking confidence, and with time and dedication, you will soon be able to graduate to speaking Chinese with your friends, language partner, or Chinese teacher.
About the Author
Juli Mboty has called China home for over 12 years where she became passionate about the Chinese culture, language, and history.