How to learn Chinese Mandarin

20 May

What do we mean by learning Chinese and what is the best way to do it?

When talking about Chinese language studies we need to be specific. There are around fifty languages that are alive and thriving in China today. The two biggest are Cantonese and Mandarin. Cantonese is mostly confined to the area around Hong Kong and Taiwan while Mandarin is the de facto lingua franca of contemporary China. This has not always been the case and it did not come about as an accident. Mandarin is also known as Standard Mandarin and is an amalgamation of the Beijing accent and simplified traditional Chinese. It is known as Standard Mandarin because it has been artificially promoted by the central government as a standardized mode of communication for all of China. The result of this effort is that today there really is a language that can claim the title of being called Chinese. Standard Mandarin, as opposed to the 50 other versions of the Chinese language family is a key to being understood in the vast majority of the huge country that is China.

There are many methods available today for learning Mandarin. Few, however, works as well as personalized content does. When I say personalized content I mean a curriculum that is designed for you own needs. Grammar, pronunciation and writing are taught by a common red thread of relevance pertaining to your own ambitions. So for example, if you are learning Mandarin to study Chinese traditional medicine you need a huge subset of words that most people will never need. These words can therefore never be part of a general curriculum but for you they represent the most important part of the language.

The nature of personalized content is that it helps you learn a language organically. Your skills in the more general uses of the language are honed by focusing on your own target. When you are able to speak Mandarin in the sense of traditional Chinese medicine you can practice not only the words that you only use to describe this practice, but also the parts of the Mandarin language that holds the complete sentences together. This method works best because you therefore are not only surgically targeting your own mission; you are also actually learning the peripheral content surrounding your bulls’ eye at a faster rate than you would if you target these basics.

To clarify that statement I would like to make simple analogy. I am big fan of diving and swimming in general. When I train for swimming races I spend only about one third of my time in water. By building muscles in the gym I am able to increase my power at a much faster rate than by only swimming. Targeting your own strength, where you need it most, is what will get you speaking Mandarin the fastest as you will then have the muscle to engage complicated sentence structures in a setting that matter to you.

Instead of learning how to ask what your friends’ grandfathers are called, which is to be honest, not something most people do on a daily basis, but is something that every general language book loves to teach, you learn something that you will use every day. If you do, you will then, in these settings, pick up the surrounding language components required to ask these simple and rather silly questions to.

So people that want to learn Mandarin should find a way to study where they get the personal attention required to succeed quickly. There are two main ways to achieve this. The first option is a private tutor, which of course is 100 percent targeted. It can however be too expensive for some people. The second option is to not study at a university and instead pay for a private language school. This is more expensive than studying at university, but it is cheaper than private classes and largely gets you the desired results: targeted, relevant and efficient Mandarin language studies.

Rui Ming works for a Mandarin academy that is a great option for those that want to learn Chinese. If you are interested in more information about learning Chinese in China, please consult the website of Beijing Gateway Academy.


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