Whilst English is the global language, the Chinese language (Mandarin) and its features will get you far
Learning with an app, apps, online, or in person, be you android or iOS users, now is a good time to learn to write and speak Mandarin Chinese well.
Along with English, Mandarin Chinese is one of the best foreign languages you can learn despite its difficulty for kids and adults alike.
Wherever you're based in the world, but particularly in Australia, getting your Chinese to a good level with some lessons can boost your Mandarin-speaking, listening, reading, vocabulary, and not to mention your ability to write.
The pronunciation and reading/writing systems require a lot of attention because they are character and tonal-based, which takes a lot of practice for English speakers.
For this reason, it's good to get extra help beyond just private lessons.
In this piece, we will review some of the best and most fun ways to practice Mandarin Chinese with apps online on your computer, Android, or iOS device.
Also, check out the best way to learn Chinese...
Get More From Your Chinese Classes With Lessons Through Apps
There are now more Mandarin Chinese language learning apps than ever that use both character and pinyin-based learning. A full version of such an app isn't always free, but the features are definitely worthwhile.
Thankfully, they often have a free trial, before you get the full version, so find out whether it suits you well before purchasing
For users who are looking beyond just having fun learning online, think about how the following apps could help you use Mandarin Chinese on the ground in Beijing or Shanghai.
Hello Chinese claims to be better than a dictionary and practice app combined, great for both beginners and advanced users alike.
It initially works off a pinyin-based transcription, which then converts to the assigned Chinese character, then back into Roman script to help you ace reading and pronunciation.
The app then has about 40 lessons of 3-4 chapters each as you progress.
Each of these are capped off with a progress quiz for learners to find out what they need to revise about their reading, writing, speaking, listening, vocabulary, and grammar.
A true benefit of the app is that it is entirely free.
Another is that you hear native speakers in their natural pronunciation style throughout the course of your learning and will prove to eb one of the best means of substituting home tutoring.
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Specialised Online Websites for Chinese Language Exercises
The best help you can get to independently learn a language is usually online, and can consolidate what you read, your writing, listening, and speaking.
Learning Chinese online through various websites is a great way to practice your skills and save time.
Check out the following Chinese language learning websites and their features:
- Chinese Tools, provides an online based version of language learning to support your Mandarin Chinese learning progress with a good deal of lessons - 31 to be exact, focussing on pronunciation, writing, speaking, and calligraphy - and they're all free!
- Mosalingua gives reading and writing exercises for character practice.
- Chinese Learner’s has a wide range of lessons for English speakers, which lack structure but are good if you know what you're looking for, especially for help on specific topics.
- FluentU is known for its interactivity and easy to find and use interface, drawing on actual materials, catering to students who don't do well with the academic side of learning.
- The Chairman’s Bao is useful like FluentU in that it's based on real material, from a Mandarin news website, but isn't free
No matter where you're based, being able to find somewhere to learn Chinese shouldn't be hard. Have an ogle of the cost of a Chinese lesson with a Superprof tutor...
Chinese Language Exchanges and their Benefits
Just because you struggle with reading characters and memorising pronunciation, doesn't mean you should be afraid of giving a profound review of your Chinese in-country.
But if you don't feel well at the idea of going overseas and speaking foreign languages, spend some time going to a few language exchanges online or in Australia.
A quick Google search will tell you when, where, and how.
A good first place to look is Google like we said, but a good use of your time might be to go and meet some like-minded characters in an in-person meet.
This could even help you to find a Mandarin language tutor.
Of course, for those who find this intimidating, look online for some great Mandarin Chinese language exchanges with English speakers.
A few sites for language exchanges
- Penpal Tradition also lets you correspond via snail-mail
- My Language Exchange
- The Beijinger has traditional-style classified ads
These sites are so useful in that they will match you with native Chinese language speaking users in China or Taiwan, who want to learn English.
Whilst this focuses more on the practice of reading, writing, and speaking for learners (compared to formal classes), the experience can be full and rewarding since you see how a native would use the words in conversation.
This is perfect especially if you're less concerned about the particularities of vocabulary and grammar, and are more concerned about speaking well, and will benefit you a lot if you're going to China for business or a holiday, and want to get past just using pinyin or opting for a simple character that kids could use.
Other methods for finding a language exchange partner
- Contact with a Chinese cultural centre
- Speaking with shop owners in a Chinese neighbourhood (Chinatown): you will be able to practice your Mandarin on the spot as well as hearing directly where you can find a good tutor, teacher, or interlocutor.
- Speak with your friends about wanting to learn Chinese: maybe they will know of a classmate or colleague who can help
- Facebook groups for language learning or for Chinese expats looking to connect with Australians
- Student forums at university often have international students seeking to connect in English or Mandarin with Australian students
Find Out About Chinese History
Learning a language without learning about its culture gets you nowhere.
Through taking a Chinese language course, you will find out more about China’s history and its impact on contemporary society.
Chinese history and culture is incredibly rich and diverse, so you will be exposed to a plethora of literature, paintings, music, arts, and calligraphy.
You can learn about the lives of emperors and their dynasties, and how their ideas and legacies also shaped the west. Many of their ideas still pervade in Chinese society today.
This is typically used to show the beginners the ropes, and become acquainted with pinyin and their associated characters, as the richness of ideas and stories is easy to remember.
China has been consistently inhabited for more than a million years, so it stands to reason that their culture would be so developed. The first traces of human life there occurred in the Lower Palaeolithic period, but contemporary Chinese history really started with Emperor Huándì of the Huaxia in the 27th century BC.
China today counts 56 ethnic groups, with the Han being the most prevalent. This group reigned over the now highly prosperous northeast of the country for more than 400 years, which permitted them to expand into the centre and periphery of the region.
It stands to reason then that the writing system you learn when speaking Chinese is the Han writing system.
This is also why the characters are so complicated for English speakers to learn - they stem from a way of thinking that has evolved over several thousand years, whereas English is only around 600 years old in its current form.
Watch Original Language Chinese Movies
Watching original language Chinese movies without dubbing, but with Mandarin subtitles, will help you get a sense of what the language sounds like in use.
There's a wide range of "made in China" films out there that let you hear daily language (albeit a little theatrical in tone sometimes).
A real plus of this is that you can hear the tones and how they should be used on the spot. This trains your brain, and can even help you memorise them by hearing them in phrases.
The contextualisation that the films give will also stimulate your memory and help you associate correct pronunciation and vocabulary with a certain setting.
For cultural and linguistic immersion, this is a non-negotiable step, and one of the easiest ways to get an intensive course without having to do too much work - talk about passive learning!
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