How to Learn Mandarin at Home

Do you want to learn mandarin quickly at home? Then the most important advice I can give to learn the Chinese language is to find the right method.

When you finish reading this article you will probably find the best way to study one hour a day for the next one year.

1. Set a goal

Learning a foreign language requires consistency, and if you are not motivated enough, you tend to forget your initial goals and soon return to your usual routine, consists of one hour of Facebook a day. Choose a clear, simple, and measurable goal. Decide how long you want to reach it.

If you don't have a strong motivation, for example, to pass a test in a month, you should create one. Set a long-term goal, for example, be able to watch a mandarin movie without English subtitles and give yourself a deadline.

Do you think your plan is viable? I mean, if you don't know a word of Chinese and your goal is to read "The Three Kingdom" in the original language within a month, you'll probably have to study twenty hours a day for the next thirty days, which is impossible. Give yourself a realistic goal.

Once you've set a long-term goal and a limited amount of time to get there, you have to decide how much time you can devote to studying each day. For example, I try to study Chinese for one hour or more a day.

How to Learn Mandarin at Home

2. Share it

Announce it to the world, tell your girlfriend (or boyfriend) and friends, post it on Facebook, Twitter, or your personal blog. Give one hundred dollars (or more) to your mom and tell her to give it back to you in one year, only if you are able to achieve the goal. Make sure that, your life will be more difficult in case of failure.

It doesn't seem like much, but I have a lot of things to do and I know that if I were forced to study one hour a day I'd get tired very soon. This way I have managed to keep up almost every day.

3. Creating a Chinese language environment

The best environment advice for learning Chinese is to move to China for a while. But we know that this is not possible, there are still many things you can do to "immerse yourself" in the language, especially since the Internet has become a technology accessible to almost everyone.

How to Learn Mandarin at Home

You can sign up for Language Exchange, a website where you can find people willing to learn and teach any language. For example, you can find a Chinese person willing to talk to you for half an hour a day in Chinese or as long as you want and then talk to them in Spanish. Don't underestimate chat. Writing is important to reinforce the words and grammatical structures in your memory.

Download podcasts, mp3 lessons, or audiobooks and listen to them on your way to work.

Get your favorite movies or TV shows and watch them in Chinese with subtitles. If it's a movie you've seen you'll be able to follow the story, even if your Chinese is still at a basic level. Stop watching movies in English. So I force myself to watch films in their original version with subtitles.

4. Chinese grammar

Don't try to resist it. A little grammatical background is necessary. I am not saying that you have to learn all the sentence structures that are in Chinese (there are hundreds of them) or all the classifiers; but at least you have to know how classifiers work, how a sentence is structured, how to use the particle, the use of the passive and so on.

When you try to speak Chinese, notice and take note of the points where you get stuck or are unable to express yourself. Half of the time it's probably because you lack the proper grammatical structure or missing vocabulary.

How to Learn Mandarin at Home

5. Learn the Word

To speak Chinese successfully you will have to memorize many words (verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc). For the best results, I recommend you download Anki, an "intelligent" flashcard program that allows you to remember the words you want to learn in an effective way.

I am so convinced of the effectiveness of flashcards that if I were still in college I would use Anki to study mathematical formulas.

The use of flashcards simulates an "interrogation", i.e. a question/answer process that forces you to dig into your memory until you get the right answer or not. There are two main reasons why active recall is more effective than passive study:

  • "Remembering" something strengthens the memory, which increases the chances of retaining information.
  • If you do not remember the answer to a specific question, you know that you need to spend more time with that concept instead of repeating indiscriminately everything you are studying.

How to Learn Mandarin at Home

6. Reviews

Since you're not a robot, sometimes it happens that you skip study time. Don't despair. Choose one day a month (for example, the first day of each month) to evaluate your progress.

Are you studying enough? If you are not, what is the reason? Do you think you should change something? Initial plans are not perfect and you may need to make some adjustments. No problem, write down your mistakes and impressions, modify the plan, and start over.

Learning a language is not difficult, you just have to want to!

Can you learn mandarin quickly?

It depends, in general, it takes between 3 and 6 months to have basic conversations with Chinese people. If you want to become fluent and perhaps look for a job where knowledge of Chinese is mandatory, be prepared to spend at least 2 or 3 years learning the language.

Finally, Hope you can learn Mandarin quickly at home.

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