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.

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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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10 Surprising Benefits of Word Searches and Crossword Puzzles in Language Learning

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Word searches and crosswords may not be on the forefront of the mind when it comes to language learning resources, but the ability to solve these puzzles require several skills that will be most useful when it comes to language learning.

Arthur Wynn a journalist from Liverpool is credited as being the inventor of the first crossword puzzle which was published in the ‘New York World‘ in 1913. Whilst Norman Gilbat published the first word search in the ‘Selenby Digest’, Oklahoma in the late 1960s. Although much earlier Pedro Ocon de Oro had created ‘Sopas de letras’ (Soup of Letters).

By the 1980s educational establishments worldwide had adopted word searches and crossword puzzles to boost vocabulary and spelling. Crossword puzzles are a form of active learning which engages more with materials than passive learning

  1. Vocabulary Building – This one is a no brainer really, but the amount of people who don’t really think about the usefulness of puzzle books and fast vocabulary building means it has made this list!
  2. Reasoning Skills – Puzzles not only get you thinking in that language but also get’s you using those reasoning skills too, this is an all important step for fluency.
  3. Spelling – Correctly deciphering a crossword also requires exact spelling, which for some students may mean practicing those dictionary skills! In relation to word searches it’s reviewing the word.
  4. Identify and understanding terms used – puzzles are great for all levels and can help build the pace from which you identify and understand key terms.
  5. Differentiations between similar words or phrases – Puzzles can really help with learning the differentiations between similar words. Which could make all the difference to saying ‘year’ or calling someone an ‘ass’ in Spanish! I’ve made this mistake…don’t go there!
  6. Reviewing Vocabulary – fun way to go over old material and test learning.
  7. Promoting ‘Active Learning‘ which engages the reader with the material more efficiently than passive learning.
  8. Great aid for visual learners who tend to have strong puzzle solving skills and feel greater satisfaction when completing them.
  9. Fab for auditory learners too that prefer step-by-step reasoning, therefore they also benefit from the sequential steps of completing a crossword.
  10. Kinesthetics learners enjoy the multi-task strategies require to solve crosswords so beneficial to all learning types.
Italian, Word Search, Puzzle, Crossword

Word Search Puzzle Books from
Scriveremo Publishing.

Although puzzles have proven to be a valuable tool in language learning I wouldn’t recommend them alone. I use them as a fun way to consolidate my knowledge of language and help build vocabulary.

References:

Radadiya, D. “Word Search”. Word Search. Net.  
Bellis, Mary. “The History of Crossword Puzzles”. About.com.

September: Take Action Calendar for Language Learners

The theme for September’s 28 day Take Action Calendar for Language Learners from Language Learners Journal (LLJ) is all about ‘Going Scroll Free’ and getting more creative with language learning.

The calendar has daily suggested activities and prompts to enable you to take personal responsibility for your language learning whilst spreading a little kindness too ❤️

You can download The Take Action Calendar for Language – September Learners to print it off (and maybe stick on your vision board OR pop it in a journal).

The Take Action Calendar for Language - September Learners.(2)

The Take Action Calendar for Language – September Learners.Good luck!

The calendar is a work in progress and there are plans to translate it into different languages. If you have any ideas for future activities or a language you would like to see it translated into please get in touch. 

Our spooky special Take Action for Language Learners October Calendar will be released at the end of September.

Share your actions with us on social media using the hashtag #TAC and #LLJ.

We look forward to seeing your progress. Please pass this post on to inspire other language learners. Thank you 😘


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