Chinese has a reputation as a hard language to learn. It has such an air of mystery; it looks and sounds nothing like English. But put your fears behind you and you'll find Chinese is not so mysterious after all. Here are seven great ways to learn Chinese:
1. Begin with a good audio-based course. This can be a class taken at a school or university. The lessons can be taught online. Or, you can pick up some excellent packages on CD or DVD at your local bookshop, or download programs onto your computer or MP3 player. But if you want to speak the language, it's vital that the material is presented in a way you can hear. Books alone will not do. So lesson one of the seven great ways to learn Chinese is: find a method that works for you, but make sure it's an auditory method. I recommend you use the interactive and affordable Rocket Chinese language course to do this with.
2. Schedule a time to study. You may reply, "But that's why I'm doing the class online (or using CDs, etc.) I can't fit studying into my schedule at any particular time." Keep this attitude and you'll never get anywhere. There must be some time you can devote to learning Chinese every day. Maybe it's in the car while you're driving to work, or early in the morning before everyone else gets up. When you study doesn't matter; the fact that you study the same time every day does. So lesson two of the seven great ways to learn Chinese is: pick a time to study and stick to it.
3. Take advantage of everything your teaching method offers. Many online computer programs offer not only lessons but games and other learning extensions to help you master the language. DVD-based lessons may have bonus features. If you're learning Chinese in a classroom, take advantage of any outside opportunities the teacher may suggest, even if they require additional time. Lesson three of the seven great ways to learn Chinese is: squeeze every drop out of your chosen learning method.
4. Find ways to extend your learning on your own. Check out Chinese films, and watch them without subtitles if possible; you may not understand everything, but as you sensitize yourself to the sound of the language, you'll gradually comprehend more and more. If there is a city with a "Chinatown" near you, visit it and listen to the conversations around you; you'll be surprised how much you can understand. Lesson four of the seven great ways to learn Chinese is: learning doesn't stop in the classroom or when the computer is turned off.
5. Watch the way Chinese people form their words. In any language, the way the speaker shapes his lips and uses his tongue makes a tremendous impact on the sound produced. This is often difficult to hear but easier to see. In addition, much is communicated through body language that never makes its way to speech at all. So lesson five of the seven great ways to learn Chinese is: pay attention to all aspects of Chinese communication, not just the sound.
6. Seek out Chinese people and make friends. People are generally delighted when a foreigner tries to speak their language, and you'll find making friends to be remarkably easy. In addition to improving your social life, your new friendships will build your Chinese language skills at a much faster rate than classroom or online study alone. Lesson six of the seven great ways to learn Chinese is: bring Chinese into your personal life.
7. Practice – a lot! As you walk through your house, identify items whose Chinese names you know: chair, table, bed, door. Ask yourself questions in Chinese: Are you hungry? What time is it? Repeat the sample conversations you've learned as part of your lessons. The final lesson of the seven great ways to learn Chinese is: you can never practice too much.
Now, those tips weren't too hard, and not too mysterious, right? But you'll be surprised how these seven great ways to learn Chinese help you in your quest to learn a new language – and you'll be really surprised at the way they transform your life.
Read my Rocket Chinese review today, it might just be the Chinese learning program you were looking for.