A Year of Chinese Mandarin…

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.

Full transparency: From time-to-time we do use affiliate links for paid products on this site. This means Language Learners Journal gets a small commission for some (not all) referrals. It doesn’t affect the price of anything but doing so has helped to maintain, improve and keep this site ad-free for over 3 years. We appreciate the support, thank you.

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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 or ( – 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.

You can follow Trisha’s journey from a false beginner to HSK 2 and beyond on Twitter and Facebook or Check the Mandarin Board on Pinterest.

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10 reasons to learn Mandarin Chinese

  1. Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world. If you can speak it then you can communicate with nearly a billion people worldwide!
  2. China is an economic superpower and a major trade point.
  3. China has a fascinating and rich history and culture.
  4. It is easier than you think! There are no verbs, plurals, tenses, subject-verb agreement, OR conjugations.
  5. Chinese could be regarded as one of the most logical languages in the world!
  6. Speaking and reading in Mandarin Chinese is a great workout for the brain as it uses both the left and right hemispheres!
  7. The Chinese love to hear Westerns ‘attempt’ to speak their language and can be very supportive in helping you learn.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Recommended Resources

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!

uTalkuTalk 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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Learning a new language and would like some community support? Come join our free, friendly and supportive group today or sign up for our free-mentorship programme! 


Thanks for visiting Language Learners Journal! If you have enjoyed this article please share it and inspire your friends and family to learn Chinese.

#AYearofMandarin

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The Basics of What We Understand About Brain Injuries and Language

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body, and it has many parts that are responsible for a variety of everyday activities. One of the activities that we do every day is communicate, which involves several parts of the brain.

Damage to certain parts of the brain can change your language capabilities substantially. In some instances, an injured person might have difficulties speaking, while others might have difficulties understanding spoken or written language. Severe brain damage can lead to a complete loss of all language capacities. The difficulties a person encounters depends on the region or the brain that is damaged. Here are a few ways that a brain injury can affect language processing.

How Language Regions of the Brain Can Be Damaged

Areas of the brain that process language could incur damage based from a variety of situations. One typical reason the brain might become damaged is epilepsy, which causes recurrent seizures. It’s also possible for a part of the brain to be damaged during surgery, because of diseases such as brain cancer, or trauma resulting from a physical injury.

Parts of the Brain Associated with Language Processing

Several parts of the brain are associated with language processing, including the Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area.  Other parts of the brain, such as the angular gyrus, insular cortex, and basal ganglia, are involved in language processing as well. According to neuroscience researchers, “Regions in your frontal, temporal and parietal lobes formulate what you want to say and the motor cortex, in your frontal lobe, enables you to speak the words.” Damage to any one of these areas can result in decreased language abilities.

Damage to the Wernicke and Broca Areas of the Brain

When the Wernicke’s area is damaged, a person might be able to speak but not able to understand language. Carl Wernicke first learned this when a patient exhibited this symptom in 1867. A few years earlier, in 1861, Pierre Paul Broca observed a patient who was able to understand language but not produce it. He then found out in a postmortem examination that there was a lesion in what is now known as the Broca’s area.

According to personal injury lawyers, “As one of the most complex organs in the human body, the brain can dramatically alter your daily life when it’s damaged. For instance, if Wernicke’s area of the brain suffers damage, you could no longer be able to understand or comprehend written or spoken words. If Broca’s area is affected, you might not be able to form words to speak.”

Other Types of Language Deficits

The Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area are areas of the brain that are commonly referenced when talking about language loss, but there are other ways that a person can experience a language deficit. A deficit in language is called aphasia, and there are two types of aphasia: receptive and expressive. Receptive aphasia refers to a person’s ability to understand the meaning of language, and expressive aphasia refers to a person’s ability to express language.

Receptive and Expressive Aphasias

An example of receptive aphasia is a person who is able to express language but has difficulty understanding it. A person with receptive aphasia might still retain the ability to speak, but the words they are speaking might not have any meaning.

With an expressive aphasia, a person will be unable to make meaningful language, or their language will be impaired. They will, however, be able to understand language, and they will likely be aware of their impaired deficits in their ability to produce meaningful language.

Do People With Language Deficits Due to Brain Injury Ever Make Progress?

People who suffer a brain injury can make progress, and it’s sometimes over the course of several years or even decades. Those who experience brain injury might have difficulties expressing themselves, but it might get better over time. There are also things you can do to help, such as slowing the conversation or using simplified language to communicate.
Interested in learning more about how language learning affects the brain? Check out the Language Learners Journal for more information and free resources, or sign up for one of our online courses.

Free 7 Days of Mindfulness Challenge

“Mindfulness might simply be described as choosing and learning to control our focus of attention.”

– Jon Kabat-Zinn  

Starting Monday 11th March 2019 

In this busy, digitally distracting world it is harder than ever to focus on just one thing at a time! 

Mindfulness is a ancient eastern practice, redesigned for busy western society and backed by modern day science.

Contrary to what you may have heard about mindfulness it is actually a very simple concept to grasp!

In a nutshell mindfulness is about paying deliberate attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way.

De-clutter your mind for learning and improve fluency via better focus and attention with this FREE 7 day Mindfulness Challenge.  

I’m sure you will be able to take away some mindfulness practices to implement  into your own daily study routines.

✨ 7 Day Mindfulness Challenge…✨

➡️ No email required – free to join.

➡️ Daily encouragement and support.

➡️ Mentorship programme.

➡️ Practice videos.

➡️ Exclusive group chat for participants.

➡️ Live Q&A & chat sessions.

➡️ Continued support on #MindfulMondays

Come join us…

I look forward to reading your responses to this challenge below and on social media. Share this with your friends so they can benefit from the challenge too.

When posting on Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest use: #7MindfulDaysand be sure to tag me @languagelearnersjournal so that I can follow and comment on your progress.

Further Reading…

The Science behind mindful language learning

10 Simple Tips for Mindful Language Learning

3 Simple Language Learning Activities for Mindfulness

What is a more mindful & holistic approach to learning?