In this guest post by Ronnie Avelino of Day Transations, you will learn 5 great ways to help you take your Chinese learning to the next level. When you need document translation into Chinese with a high level of accuracy, you need professional translation services. When you want to learn Chinese properly, it is best to take formal lessons. Chinese is one of the languages that are difficult to learn. However, there are people who think that learning this East Asian language is not at all difficult. Both are true, because learning Chinese or any foreign language actually depends on the person trying to learn.
The learning depends on the end goal in mind, the need, determination and investment in time (and money). Accepting that Chinese is more difficult to learn than other languages takes you over one hurdle. Next is the pronunciation, because it is quite different from the languages in the West. While you are serious in your wish to learn, you should not take yourself too seriously as there are fun ways to improve your Chinese pronunciation.
The first thing to master are the Chinese tones. As you are already a learner, you know that there are four tones in Mandarin Chinese plus a neutral tone. You understand that a word in Chinese can take different meanings, depending on its tone. This is the reason why it is very important that you get this aspect of the language right away. Chinese pronunciation is where most students encounter problems. After memorizing the tones, you should learn the Pinyin pronunciation, the romanization of Chinese text that makes it easier for people to read Chinese. Here are some tips that can help you with your Chinese pronunciation.
- Listen to Audio Recordings
More than just repeating the words, what you need to do is to listen carefully to how each word is spoken, the intonation, the pauses, the rising, lowering and leveling of the speaker’s voice. This is related to learning the tone or pitch, as follows:
1 – high level – mā (the tone is high but is level)
2 – rising tone – má (the tone goes up and ends abruptly, like you’re asking a question)
3 – falling-rising tone – mǎ (the tone goes down and up, like you’re lowering your chin to your neck then back up again)
4 – falling tone – mà (the tone goes from high to low, like the sound you utter when you’re stomping your feet in disgust)
With these examples as your guide, you’ll soon learn to distinguish the tones. Of course, it will take time, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. What are your interests? Define something that you usually do. If you love music, listen to Chinese music, try to learn the songs and pay extra attention to the lyrics and how they sound.
- Find Friends Who Share the Same Interest in the Language
If you are active in social media networks or you are basically a friendly person, find other people who share your interest and can help you improve your Chinese language learning. Facebook and other similar sites will enable you to find people who can help with languages. You can exchange lessons, teaching your new friends your native language as you learn theirs. Having a learning buddy makes it more fun and easier to improve your language learning. As Chinese is tonal, you’ll improve your pronunciation faster through conversations with native speakers. This will also improve and increase your vocabulary. Make sure you have pen and paper with you so you can take notes.
- Download a Chinese Language APP
If you are like any millennial, you’re hardly parted from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Support your formal lessons with one or two free (or paid) apps available for Apple or Android phone operating systems. Find reviews of Chinese language apps to have an idea on which ones to install on your device. There are apps that are specific, which provide you lessons on particular aspects of language learning, whether it is increasing your vocabulary or improving your pronunciation. There are also apps that provide flashcards, timed lessons and games to make your language learning more fun and interactive.
- Keep on Practicing
You do not have to stay inside your room to practice what you’ve learned. It is better to practice with someone who speaks Mandarin Chinese because it requires you to speak in the language as well. Hang out with Chinese friends and request them to speak the language with you. It will help if you treat your friend to a meal or snack. Visit Chinatown and eat at restaurants frequented by Chinese-speaking patrons so you can listen to them talk. Try to find a kind soul who’s willing to talk to you and give you pointers. Watch Chinese movies without the subtitles on TV or online. You’ll hear the right tones, how they relate to the story’s context and to the human characters. Hearing and saying the words yourself will improve your pronunciation. If you can afford it, visit Taiwan or China, where Mandarin Chinese is the main language spoken.
- Embrace the Language and Do Not Stop Learning
It will help you improve your Chinese language learning, including your pronunciation if you truly love the language, and conversely, the Chinese culture. Moreover, include Chinese in your daily life. Have you tried labeling most things in your home in Chinese? It will help in increasing your vocabulary. Learn a few words each day and how to construct sentences, from simple to compound. Your improvement comes with investment in time. You’ll improve your pronunciation by doing your lessons, trying out what you’ve learned by engaging in actual conversation with native speakers and learning from your mistakes.
Improving your Chinese pronunciation depends on your dedication. If you want to be a fluent speaker, allow native speakers to correct you. Have a plan on what to learn each day or each week and focus your attention on them. It is more effective to learn in small chunks instead of trying to take everything in at one time. This can overwhelm you and make you lose interest.