Why do you need to learn Mandarin?
Basically, to decide what language you want to learn can be adjusted according to your needs. If you like Asian culture, and you are involved in trade and economy, then Mandarin is the right choice to study. Then why do you have to learn Mandarin?
There are many reasons you need to know why you should study Mandarin, such as:
The number of language speaker is very large
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Until recently, the facts show that Mandarin Chinese is almost spoken in all parts of the world. Just look, many countries are already using Mandarin. Not only countries but also international institutions such as the United Nations have made Mandarin one of their official languages. There is nothing wrong if we learn Mandarin from now on?
Understand Chinese culture and history
Chinese calligraphy was written by the poet Wang Xizhi (王羲之) of the Jin dynasty
China is a country that is very rich in history and knowledge that can be learned. For those who want to understand Chinese culture and history, it is better to have basic Mandarin skills to make the learning process more enjoyable and comprehensive. Studying ancient and even modern Chinese culture and history can not only be done by reading Confucius’ books or books related to China’s national history, but many facts can only be found directly in Chinese culture and may not have been translated into other languages.
Mandarin is one of the most widely spoken languages in the business world
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It is no secret that the world’s top businessmen today come from China. Many businessmen, business people, and even the wealthiest people today come from China. Learning Mandarin will add more value and ability for those of you who are in the fields of business, commerce, and others because it will make communication easier with other business partners, thereby increasing your business connections.
Train your brain by learning Mandarin
Several studies explain that learning Mandarin Chinese will improve the abilities and cognitive abilities of the human brain. Mandarin is a complex and challenging language to learn because it is filled with complicated characters for non-Chinese people. The uniqueness, complexity, and difficulty of Mandarin then stimulate brain performance so that it has the potential to improve the comprehension and memory of individuals learning Mandarin.
Greater job opportunities
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China is currently an important actor in the global economy and business. This then becomes an advantage because all aspects of life are closely related to economic factors. For those of you who are in the business and economic world, having the ability to speak Mandarin will definitely increase your trust and have a positive impact on you in the eyes of your company or workplace.
Learning Mandarin is interesting, believe us!
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Maybe many people say that learning Mandarin is boring because it is filled with characters that are difficult to understand. In fact, that is what makes this language unique and very interesting to learn. In the middle of learning Chinese, you will learn and increase knowledge about Chinese history, one character in Chinese Mandarin contains a lot of history.
Difference between Mandarin and Chinese?
Mandarin and Chinese are different things, but they are one thing. Chinese is a term that represents all the languages spoken by Chinese people. While Mandarin is part of the Chinese language, Chinese is not necessarily Mandarin. I believe this is very easy to understand.
China is a country that has a very diverse language. There is only one language, namely Chinese, but Chinese has many dialects, such as Hokkien, Khek, Tiochiu, Shanghai, and Mandarin. Well, Mandarin is one of the many Chinese languages/dialects and the most spoken in China. Mandarin is currently the most widely spoken language in China, such as government, education, and media. In big cities, you will often encounter residents who speak Mandarin.
Is it possible to learn Chinese in 5 minutes?
For those of you who are busy with work, college, or other matters, surely you don’t have too much time to learn Chinese. But take it easy, if you want to master Chinese but don’t have much time, Enjoy Shanghai provides several techniques and recommendations on how to learn Chinese in just 5 minutes:
Download the Chinese language learning applications
Technology that continues to develop nowadays provides a broader opportunity to learn anything in an easy and fast way. For those of you who are studying Chinese, download the application to learn Chinese.
You can try FluentU, Duolingo, LingoDeer, Drops, and others to help your struggle to learn Chinese. Then how? During your busy times, you have a little free time. When going to the office using the commuter, during college breaks, cooking, or other free time, try to open the language learning application and focus for 5 minutes. Learning slowly and gradually is a great strategy for language learning for those of you who are very busy.
Watch a 5-minute YouTube video
This is a very simple but effective way to learn Chinese in a short time. When you find some free time, go straight to YouTube, and look for lessons or courses, explanations, and brief Chinese materials. 5 minutes is a very short time, but within 5 minutes, you are already progressing and gaining new knowledge about Chinese.
Flashcards and Vocabularies
Vocabulary is essential when learning languages and flashcards are the techniques and strategies most others use when learning languages. How does it work?
Before you go to sleep or after waking up, write down a few words or sentences in Chinese on a piece of paper or your cell phone. When you are free or not busy, try to open it, read and understand the written Chinese word or sentence. Take these 5 minutes to get new knowledge about Chinese, be it vocabulary or sentences. It is very simple and effective because you don’t get too much burden when learning the language slowly.
How long does it take to learn Chinese for regular conversation?
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The study time needed to achieve conversational skills depends on the ability and time set aside for learning Chinese. Still, to acquire Chinese language skills at the conversation level, you need at least 2 weeks of intensive and focused learning. The thing you need to focus on when you want to have conversational skills in Chinese is vocabulary. Enjoy Shanghai provides some recommendations on what topics to master in order to be fluent in casual conversation:
- Daily Chinese vocabulary for greeting
- Daily Chinese vocabulary about the day, month, date, and year
- Daily Chinese vocabulary that refers to times and conditions
- Daily Chinese vocabulary when visiting places to eat
- Daily Chinese vocabulary about colors
- Daily Chinese vocabulary about objects and surroundings
If you already have sufficient skills in vocabulary regarding the above topics, you already have the ability to speak Chinese.
How hard is it to learn Mandarin from zero?
Starting to learn something new is, of course, fun but challenging because we are required to learn and absorb the knowledge that we have never had before. Regarding how hard is it to learn Mandarin from zero? It is difficult and challenging because Mandarin is one of the most difficult and complicated languages in the world today. But learning Mandarin will be easier if you have a structured plan, strategy, and technique.
Enjoy Shanghai here will provide some recommendations for the proper Mandarin learning sequence or the best way to learn Mandarin:
Learn Pinyin and tones
Before learning further, it would be nice if you already have the skills and basics of Mandarin before learning more challenging material. You may already know that Chinese is a language with tones. The tone is an important and fundamental aspect of Mandarin.
Don’t panic, Chinese only has 4 tones. Take the time to practice confirming and recognizing the 4 tones and how they are pronounced. Why is this tone important? Because when you speak in the wrong tone, the meaning of the sentence you say is different. So it is crucial to start understanding and learn about pinyin and tones in Mandarin.
Vocabularies and numbers
Already recognize Pinyin and Mandarin tones? Now you are ready to learn basic vocabulary words. As with any other language learning, learning how to introduce yourself is one of the earliest priorities for learning.
Continue to enrich your vocabularies
To master Mandarin, you have to learn a lot of vocabulary. You must be able to read around 3,000 Chinese characters to be able to read a Chinese newspaper. It sounds difficult and frightening indeed, but this is a step that must be followed if you want to be fluent in Mandarin. In this step, it would be better if you have started studying vocabulary at the intermediate level.
Find suitable sources of learning materials and platforms
Learning can be anywhere and anytime. The fastest and most effective way is to live directly in a Chinese speaking country such as China for a few months. But if this option is not possible, you also have many other options. If you prefer the conventional method, you can buy Chinese study books. However, as much as possible, look for books that have audio guides so you can also practice listening and pronunciation.
If you prefer to learn via audio, you can watch Chinese learning podcasts or learn from Chinese songs. Songs – again, kindergarten rhymes and songs can be a great way to do this because the vocabulary is so simple.
If you like watching movies, look for a Chinese film or series whose storyline you like. Thus, you don’t have to force yourself to study because you already like the material that you get.
Of course, you already know this because when learning anything, consistency is the key. By practicing consistently, slowly, the foreign language that you learn will not be so ‘foreign’, you will be more familiar and understood.
In order to be consistent, create your own study schedule and stick to it. Try to dedicate at least 30 minutes a day. To make it easier, you can study by topic.
Include Mandarin in your daily life
In between free time, take advantage of that time to practice Chinese. As much as possible, involve Mandarin in your daily activities. For example, you go to work every day by bus. Instead of sleeping on the bus, you can listen to podcasts or Mandarin songs.
Are you waiting to buy snacks? Try reading the Chinese text. Are you grinding, getting ready to go to school or work, brush your teeth? Practice Mandarin via audio. If possible, change your cellphone settings to Mandarin. The point is, involve Chinese in the simple routines that you do every day.
Find the right study partners
One of the most important steps in learning a language is hands-on practice. This is obviously important if you want to improve your Chinese speaking skills, and it is also important for improving your pronunciation and listening skills.
Maybe you can’t immediately learn the conversation at the beginning, but don’t wait too long. Sooner or later, you have to practice directly the materials you have learned.
You can practice with a more proficient friend in Mandarin, or you can make friends with Chinese people directly!
If you need friends to learn Chinese, you can really study online. There are many applications or platforms that can make you connect with other people who come from abroad. One of the applications that you can use is InterPals, here you can find friends to practice languages, even to add your connections abroad.
Is Mandarin the hardest language to learn?
Yes, it is true, Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to learn. It is undeniable that Mandarin Chinese is definitely one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. How could it not be, there are thousands of han zi (characters in Mandarin) that inevitably have to be memorized to learn it. In fact, with a total of more than 50,000 characters, an educated Chinese speaker ‘only’ knows 8,000 characters. But the fact is, to read a newspaper, you ‘only’ need to know 2,000 – 3,000 ‘only’ characters.
Using tones can also be tricky. The reason is, 4 basic tones have different meanings when pronounced, even though the spelling of the word is the same. For example, the word wen in the 4th tone means to ask, but the word wen in the 3rd tone means kissing. It’s complicated.
Chinese is hard, but it is beautiful, logical, and fun, which makes learning it particularly exciting.
I agree that using flashcards is a great technique for learning Chinese words. I tried other techniques, like mnemonics and cartoons but they are not nearly that effective as the good old flashcards. I also think that flashcards work the best when coupled with spaced repetition. I’ve learned about this technique recently in one of the Chinese learning blogs I follow: https://www.hackchinese.com/blog/proven-techniques-to-learn-chinese-vocabulary. Since I started to use this technique, my retention of the words has significantly improved.