If you’re planning on living in China for a few months or even a few years, learning Mandarin is a must. A basic grasp of the language can help make life on the Mainland easier and can help you immerse deeper in the culture.
Here are five tips to help you pick up the language quickly.
Embrace the language barrier
So you don’t know what anyone is saying? That’s okay! Look at it as an opportunity to learn. Even if you only pick up a word or two here and there, you’re still making progress.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Speaking a new language is hard, and it’s okay to mess up. Expect to sound like a preschooler in the first few weeks of learning basic words and tones. This is normal. Don’t be embarrassed to try new words and phrases, even if you don’t get them right the first time. Locals can be very understanding toward foreigners who are eager to learn the language. You will find that they won’t mind meeting you halfway and will try to understand what you’re trying to say with the few words that you have in your vocabulary.
Practice, practice, practice
The best way to learn Mandarin is to practice speaking it as much as possible. Find a language exchange group, sign up for a class, or chat with locals for more practice. Speak out loud, even if you’re by yourself. This is good practice for learning the different tones and can help words and phrases stick better to memory.
Use technology to your advantage
With so many great language-learning apps and websites, it’s easier than ever to learn Mandarin on the go. Apps like Memrise and Duolingo are great resources for learning Mandarin for free. Take advantage of these tools to help you practice whenever and wherever you can.
Get creative, get social!
There are so many ways to inject a fun twist into learning a new language. Watch Chinese dramas and movies and make sure the subtitles are on. This is a good way to see and hear how words are pronounced and common phrases are used. Sign up for Chinese-English language corners where you can meet locals and converse with them in Chinese. Attend pop-up markets, go to tea or coffee shops, and meet local friends who are willing to speak the language with you. All these activities can help you practice your speaking skills so that you’ll speak like a local in no time.
Learning a new language can be challenging and even frustrating. Learning Mandarin is no exception. As long as you keep a positive attitude and embrace the challenge, you’ll be speaking like a pro and wowing your friends in no time.