05 Feb

Learn Mandarin Fast: 5 Important Things You Should Know

One common misconception about learning the Chinese language is that it is difficult, that you’ll need a great deal of time and effort just to get the basics right. The truth is Mandarin is no different from other languages. In fact, it is one of the best and easiest languages to learn, especially if you’re looking to master languages other than your own. Here’s how to learn Mandarin fast.

1. Understand that Chinese can be easy to learn
For those who grew up speaking Western language, learning Chinese is indeed a challenge. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t doable. What many non-Chinese people don’t realise is that this language has one of the easiest grammars in the world. Its basic sentence structure is very similar to English’s subject + verb + object structure. Also, words don’t have genders or plural forms, unlike Spanish, French, or Italian.

2. Learn Mandarin, not Cantonese
There are hundreds of regional and locally spoken Chinese dialects today and two of the most important ones are Mandarin and Cantonese. If you’re keen on learning the Chinese language, choose Mandarin instead of Cantonese. Mandarin is the most predominant dialect in Northern China. It is also the country’s official language of politics, education, and media. Mandarin is also widely used in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Chinese communities in different parts of the world.

3. Master spoken Mandarin first
The key to learning mandarin effectively is to master its spoken form first before deciding whether you need to know how to read and write in this language. Because written Mandarin is non-alphabetic and composed of thousands of pictographs called “characters,” it can be a bit overwhelming for a non-native speaker to memorise. On the other hand, spoken Mandarin is much easier to learn quickly, despite its tonal quality.

4. Consider learning “simplified” characters
If and when you decide to learn written Mandarin, consider learning “simplified” characters instead of the “complicated” or traditional variety. With simplified characters, the number of brush or pen strokes required to write a character or word has been reduced, thus, making them much easier to remember. Also, simplified characters are the official script of both Mainland China and Singapore.

5. Take your lessons seriously
If you want to learn Mandarin fast, you have to commit yourself into achieving this goal. This means you have to take your studies seriously. Apart from devoting a significant amount of time to practice and self-study, it also helps to take Mandarin lessons in a classroom setting.