Learn Mandarin Chinese Effectively: 3 Outstanding Tips from Students

(The following is a guest post from Yang at Learn Mandarin Now. Take it away, Yang!)


We at Learn Mandarin Now are always getting asked for tips and advice on the best ways to effectively learn Mandarin Chinese. There has been a huge increase in students across the world wishing to learn the language, and finding out the best ways to learn is key.

Downtown Chongqing By Chen Hualin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Downtown Chongqing
By Chen Hualin [CC BY-SA 3.0], Image Source

Most people say that going to live in China is the most effective way to learn and improve your Chinese. Yet, many ask: How do I get the most of my time in the country?

Well, we talked with some people we know who are learning Mandarin in China, and they shared some great tips:

1. Try a second tier city.

Living in a second tier city is becoming more popular with many students of Chinese.

From interviews we undertook with foreigners living in Chongqing, they said that there was more chance to practice speaking Chinese with locals when compared to living in a better known city. English is not widespread in Chongqing and, of course, the cost of living is much cheaper!

Living in second tier or smaller cities, you can really immerse yourself with the “real” Chinese culture and language. On the other hand, living in large cities such as Shanghai is like living in any other international city such as New York or Tokyo. You can see similar brands, restaurants and large shopping centres and so on.

2. Pick the right tutor—for you.

The majority of students agreed that one-on-one instruction is more effective especially if it’s a teacher you feel comfortable with.

To make the most of your experiences, remember, if your tutor is just nodding and agreeing with what you are saying, maybe something is wrong. It might be a sign that they are not really paying attention to your pronunciation!

A good tutor can add great value and it’s wise to, on a regular basis, ask questions such as: Did I say that correctly or did that sound not quite right? Is there another phrase related to this topic that I should know? Can I say this another way?

You will probably find if you have one or more tutors that one will advise/correct you better than the other; or that a particular tutor’s teaching style is more appropriate for you. Also, by having several teachers, you will get exposed to a wider variety of different accents and ways of saying things.

 3. Get ahead by choosing the right resources and style.

Another aspect of our research showed that some people prefer to learn by books, whilst others are keener to use different learning Apps or resources on the Internet. Each individual will have different ways to achieve success with learning how to speak Chinese. For example, some bloggers found that playing games meant that they needed to learn certain Chinese words and phrases in order to help them get through the next stage.

As there are no single tools and/or resources to guarantee your success, often it’s almost a question of trial-and-error and see what best suits you personally.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced student, why not have a look at our research about Chinese learning and review a great list of resources which you can choose from.

In any event be sure to enjoy your learning!

Finally, before we go, many thanks to Ron for letting us share these tips with his readers.

  • http://allthetongues.hol.es/ Roman Shinkarenko

    I didn’t even know there is a city of Chongqing.
    My blog: allthetongues.hol.es

  • lili

    I learn languages alone, with the help of the internet, videos, etc. I don’t need an expensive tutor, and I can’t travel to go where I’d like. Basically, this article says “each indivuduals has different way”. Where is the info? This article is a bit light.

  • Christine W

    Hello Ron, thanks for this post! It is especially helpful for me as I really would like to move to China to improve my Chinese. :)

    I’m currently working at an EdTech startup called FlipWord (flipword.co)
    , which was actually created because of our founders’ frustrations with learning languages and teaching languages.

    I’m wondering if you are interested in writing about our platform that is pioneering the concept of passive language learning. This is something unique that no one has ever tried before and can make your blog stand out/potentially go viral. We would also be open to sharing/promoting your blog.

    FlipWord currently exists as a Chrome extension that integrates learning into people’s daily online activities to solve the issues of knowledge retention and use of the language outside the classroom. Here’s a demo clip showing our extension in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ub6JRFkRQHs

    Would you be interested in testing out our Chrome extension and writing a review about it? If this sounds intriguing to you or if you have any questions, please let us know. Thanks so much!

  • https://www.studyfrenchspanish.com Vikash Gupta

    Very well written. Thanks to the China’s ever expanding economy the Mandarin popularity has boomed beyond expectation. 21st century belongs to China and Ability to Speak Mandarin will allow you to compete effectively in the global economy of the future. Recently wrote Which Foreign Language to Learn and Future of Chinese Language in India