This year Language learners Journal Founder Trisha Dunbar will be focusing on Chinese Mandarin. Although there are a number of different Chinese dialects including Cantonese and Shanghaiese. Mandarin is the most spoken language in the would with 1,000,000,000+ speakers and rising. It forms part of the Sino-Tibetan language family.
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Learning Chinese Mandarin means that you will be using both the right and left sides of the brain!
The language has four tones, plus a neutral one. Getting the tones right is an important factor…
… it can make all the difference between referring to your mother as a mã or (mâ – meaning a horse)!
A language without an alphabet!
Chinese has no alphabet! It is made up of a series of characters.
To help western society better understand there is the Pinyin system. This helps to spell out the sounds of Chinese using Roman letters. It is used as a helpful written aid to guide Chinese pronunciation.
10 reasons to learn Mandarin Chinese
- Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world. If you can speak it then you can communicate with nearly a billion people worldwide!
- China is an economic superpower and a major trade point.
- China has a fascinating and rich history and culture.
- It is easier than you think! There are no verbs, plurals, tenses, subject-verb agreement, OR conjugations.
- Chinese could be regarded as one of the most logical languages in the world!
- Speaking and reading in Mandarin Chinese is a great workout for the brain as it uses both the left and right hemispheres!
- The Chinese love to hear Westerns ‘attempt’ to speak their language and can be very supportive in helping you learn.
- Traveling or doing business abroad? As well as China, Mandarin is spoken in countries such as Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Philippines and Mongolia.
- Make new friends! Learning Mandarin gives you access to communicate with many people and connect on a deeper level, not just in Asia but across the world! Almost every major Western city has a growing Chinese community within it. Being able to communicate with those in your neighborhood and exchange students at your local university will help to connect communities, as well as foster lifelong friendships.
- Self-development. Being proficient in Mandarin will certainly boost your CV and make you stand out among against the many other applicants. Even if you don’t actively need the language for work it shows that you have commitment, focus and an understanding of another culture.
Here are my most highly recommended resources for learning Mandarin Chinese. The resources below have played a crucial role to my own learning of this beautiful language.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; Chinese: 千里之行，始於足下; pinyin: Qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐyú zú xià.”Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)
Italki – is an excellent resource and one that I regularly use to help me learn languages via Skype lessons. These lessons offer flexibility that fits perfectly into my busy lifestyle. Lessons can vary in price but start from about $5 for a 30 minute session. Register using this link to receive an additional $10 in credits after you have complete your first paid lesson!
uTalk – uTalk is one my favourite resources for learning languages. It uses verbal, visual and fun exercises to teach languages increases your chance of success. Their tried and tested products work by stimulating both sides of the brain at the same time – the visual memory (right brain) and verbal (left side). This dual-coding improves recall and learning dramatically. Adding fun to the mix helps release the neurotransmitter chemical dopamine which keeps you motivated and improves memory recall. A fabulous free alternative is LingoHut.
Easy Peasy Chinese –This book and audio CD (Amazon) is a fabulous resource for beginners and will help you get to grips with speaking, writing and understanding the basics of the language in no time.
The Chineasy Range – An excellent resource for visual language learners. From books to flashcards and even board games. I have used this range to teach my own family Chinese. check out the full range on Amazon.
HelloChinese – Learn Chinese via this awesome app which is similar to Duolingo. There is a paid element, but the free content will enable you to grasp the basics via gamification methods. Although I don’t recommend using this app alone as it is not a replacement for real conversations. It is however a welcome and fun boost to vocabulary and learning the sounds of Chinese.
Learning Chinese? Let us know in the comments section below what resources you are currently using.
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