With the rapid rise of China in recent years, Mandarin is increasingly emerging as a key language. Yet many learners face a wall of difficulties in learning this language and give up quickly. Let's take a look at the 10 most common mistakes when you start learning Chinese (Mandarin) and how to overcome them.

1. Spending too much time at school

I know it may seem counterintuitive, but school is the worst possible place to learn Chinese.

You see, learning a language is a bit like learning to play a musical instrument: The practical ratio/theory is about 80/20. However, sitting quietly in a classroom and listening to a professor talking is not really the ideal environment to maximize the practice. The list is long. For example, take a look at my self-taught resources to get an idea.

Of course, I'm not saying that you have to stop taking lessons with a teacher. I'm just saying that language classes are only one resource among others, a place to ask your questions, an opportunity to verify that you have understood or to get homework. Do not base all your learning on it alone!

2. Skip the "phonetic" step

Pronunciation is always the number one step in learning a language. Mandarin is no exception. Yet in the minds of many learners, learning Chinese is often synonymous with learning something that looks like this:

Except that before being able to read and understand the written system, one must first learn to pronounce the sounds of Chinese words correctly. However, as there is no link between the characters and their pronunciations, learning to master the "pinyin" is a step not to neglect.

And even if at first glance the Pinyin seems "easy" to pronounce, in reality, there are many that are difficult to distinguish for a French ear. To take bad habits at this stage is, therefore, an error that is expensive later.

3. Ignore grammars

We often hear that Chinese grammar is easy to learn because there are no genres, variations or even conjugations. The dream! It's true that saying like that, one might think that grammar in Chinese should not pose too many problems. Except that in reality, it's not as easy as it looks. Already because grammar is less complex, it is not easier and the context will play a very important role. For example, without conjugation, it is the context that will define the time in a sentence.

If you search in a French-Chinese dictionary, you will see that a large number of Chinese words translate exactly the same way into French. Moreover, that's why "Google translation" has so much trouble translating the Chinese language.

4. Passively Learn

Let's talk about some practice. One of the most common mistakes is to confuse "active" practice with "passive" practice.

"Active" practice is by definition when you are "actively processing information". It is, for example, to have a conversation entirely in Chinese, to make a phonetic dictation or to translate a text from Chinese to French. On the contrary, watching a movie is passive practice because you are not actively processing information. And you could watch 4 hours of Chinese movies a day that would not change much at your level in the end.

Of course, I do not say that watching movies or listening to Chinese music is useless. I'm just saying that it does not give as many results as "active practice". It's like progressing in tennis, for example, you can not hope to improve by watching only Federer games on TV. It is by spending hundreds of hours of "active practice" on the course that you will get results.

Author's Bio: 

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