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What"s the best way to study Chinese(mandarin)?
Author: From: Date:2011-5-23 Hits:1230

So many people tend to think that studying a language is an impossible task. However, it is actually quite a natural process. Whilst it is true some people are more naturally talented when it comes to studying a language, it is completely untrue to say that someone is incapable of learning a language. All of us, at one stage in our life have learnt a language, thus proving we are all capable of accomplishing such a difficult task. Learning a language, whether it be a child learning their mother tongue or an adult learning a foreign language, it is a relatively similar learning process. Studying any language is all about immersing yourself in the language.

When you first arrive in China, your brain is not accustomed to listening to Chinese, your mind can not process anything that it is hearing. In the initial stages, it can even seem painful or annoying to listen to a foreign language. Through complete immersion in a language, after time you will break through a barrier. You will notice one day, that even though you can not understand the words being spoken, the words suddenly do not seem so foreign. You will start to feel comfortable with the language. You will only realize how true this is when you then hear a different language and the language feels so unfamiliar. Even if you do not know what language is being spoken, you will instantly register that the language is not Chinese.

After breaking through this initial barrier, through studying vocabulary, you will start to pick up on words in conversations. The more frequently you listen to Chinese, the more frequently you will hear these words. The constant repetition of these words will stick in your mind and eventually become apart of your fixed vocabulary. The key to retaining this vocabulary is by allowing yourself to listen to Chinese frequently. By saying listen, this means focusing on the words said, even if this means forcing yourself. Tuning out from a conversation, even though it may seem to be the easiest option, it is not helping your Chinese.

It is imperative to your learning to create an environment for yourself; you can do this by joining classes and most importantly finding a friend that can not speak English. Yes, communication and friendships are so much easier if you can speak the same language, but again, it is not helping your learning. Even if someone offers to do a "language exchange" or offers "to teach you Chinese and you teach them English", chances are their English is better than your Chinese and it is just natural to revert back to the easiest communication method.

When I first came to China, I did as everyone did, sought out people that could speak English to form friendships with, until I realized that their English was improving so much and my Chinese was just stagnating. So although some good friendships were formed, I was not making any progress towards my goal of learning Chinese. I then decided to make a change, I found a friend that could not speak any English, he literally knew the words, "hello" and "I love you". You may be wondering how on earth I became friends with people I couldn't communicate at all, well it was actually great fun. We both carried a dictionary and a notebook with us at all times, when we wanted to say something we used a combination of sign language, drawings and words from the dictionary to get our points across. Yes, it was frustrating and inconvenient at times, but it was the best thing I could do to reach my goals of learning Chinese. At the time there were no Chinese Training Centers around and every time I attempted to have a lesson with a private tutor, it simply ended up as more of an English Corner/ Lesson.

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