How to Learn Chinese Online in 5 Simple Steps

It’s an established fact that knowing a foreign language can help you to stand out in the job market irrespective of the sector. It is a skill that can be developed alongside other academic pursuits and even professional careers. People who are fluent in at least one foreign language are considered valuable human capital for a country. Among the most popular foreign languages, more than 1.3 billion people speak Chinese (Mandarin). China is the 2nd largest economy in the world, and it plays a significant role in the world economy. In this post, guest author Misty writes about how to learn Chinese online.

How to Learn Chinese Online

Co-authored by Misty Jhones

Why Should You Learn Chinese?

Learning is one of the absolute best investments you can make with your free time.

The main driver of the Chinese language’s attractiveness is China’s booming economy and its status as a rising global superpower. Over the last 35 years, China has transformed itself from an impoverished third-world country to becoming what is arguably the largest global economy.

During this same period, China has opened itself up to the world, encouraging foreign investment and economic cooperation. As such, there is a huge demand for people who can bridge the gap between this new growing China and the wider world.

Chinese skills are rare and can make you an attractive hire. Due to the lack of people in the Western business world who can speak both Chinese and English, there’s a huge demand for these skills, and this can of course mean very lucrative wages.

Is it Possible to Learn Chinese?

Chinese is notoriously one of the most difficult languages in the world. Be that as it may, you don’t have to pay huge sums of money or spend hours learning every week in order to become fluent. Like with every other language, with a little hard work and perseverance, you can learn Chinese.

When we speak about the Chinese language it’s important to know that we are generally referring to one particular language: Mandarin. Mandarin Chinese has almost one billion native speakers, making it the most spoken first language in the world. On top of that, there are millions of people who speak Mandarin as a second language, so knowing the basics is definitely worthwhile.

It’s not surprising that many Westerners want to learn such a widely-spoken language, as it can open many doors for young graduates, or anyone, anywhere on the career ladder for that matter. Being able to communicate in Mandarin provides numerous business opportunities as this skill makes you a valuable asset to a vast array of companies, in various domains.

The question being asked nowadays is: can I learn Chinese online? And the answer is a resounding yes! All you need to do is follow these 5 simple steps…

1.   Chinese Learning: Reading

Practically everybody recognizes a Chinese character when they see one, but very few foreigners are able to decipher them. There are thousands of Chinese characters, also known as hànzì (汉字), but you only need to know the 3,500 most common characters in order to be considered literate. Thanks to the internet, there are many free resources at your fingertips to help you familiarize yourself with them, from photos and videos to e-books and online Mandarin lessons.

2.   Writing

Reading and writing go hand in hand, so once you’re able to recognize a few Chinese characters, you should try writing them. Using the internet, you can simply try copying them from photos and vocabulary cards, or you can watch tutorials for instructive videos on exactly how to start writing characters. Both Mandarin and Cantonese use hànzì so once you’ve learned the basics, you could concentrate on either language.

3.   How to Speak Chinese

While Mandarin and English may seem to be worlds apart at first glance, they actually both follow the same pattern for basic sentences: subject, verb, object. This similar sentence structure means that, fortunately, basic sentences are not too hard for English speakers to grasp.

Learning to speak Chinese has never been simpler thanks to computers and smartphones. Previously, it was difficult to find a private tutor or native Chinese speakers to practice with from the other side of the globe, but nowadays that’s not a problem.

You can connect to any language-learning website and pay for a private lesson right there and then. 1-to-1 language tutoring online enables you to converse with a native speaker or qualified teacher thanks to webcam lessons. With just one hour of tutoring per week, you can drastically improve your speech, including vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and self-confidence too.

Online Chinese tutors

When it comes to learning Chinese, pronunciation should not be overlooked. Chinese is a tonal language. What this means is that your pronunciation, more specifically your tone, is used to convey the meaning of the word. Speaking to an online Chinese tutor is of course the best way to improve your pronunciation, as you can listen and repeat after them, and they can correct you and help you understand when to use certain inflections and intonation.

4.   Listening

One of the most challenging parts of learning any language is being able to understand it. Using videos and social media you are able to listen to music, watch vlogs and interviews or tune into live streams of your favorite influencers. All of these will help your brain get accustomed to hearing Chinese, which will help you to absorb more words and acquaint yourself with the accent and pronunciation. Don’t forget that most video software allows you to show subtitles, so you can listen and read along at the same time.

How to Learn Chinese pronunciation

Pronunciation is extremely difficult to practice alone without hearing yourself. A solution to this is to listen and repeat, and then record yourself doing so. For example, watch a video clip, then record yourself repeating a sentence aloud. Listen to yourself back and then compare your recording to the video or audio file of the native speaker. Doing this repetitively can help you understand what you’re doing right, and what you’re getting wrong in terms of pronunciation.

5.   Playing

Having fun is vital when it comes to learning any language. With a language that’s infamously complex, you don’t want to ever get overwhelmed or fed up or learning. That’s why you need to dedicate time to play, no matter how old you are.

The internet is full of online games, some of which are designed to help you learn languages, such as vocabulary and grammar games, while others are entirely for your pleasure. Try a few language games on apps or online, or change your device’s language settings to Mandarin Chinese and play video games to your heart’s content.

Doing a fun activity will also help your brain associate learning Chinese with fun, relaxation, or pleasure, making you more excited to learn it and less likely to quit.

What are you waiting for?

Learning a new language may be daunting, but there’s no better time than the present to get started. One single technique won’t enable you to communicate effortlessly in Chinese, but reading, writing, speaking, listening, and playing combined will help you to become fluent. Each technique complements the others, you should therefore allot time in your weekly learning schedule for all of the 5 steps for learning Chinese online.

If your goal is simply to speak Chinese, then you can concentrate on the speaking and listening activities. On the other hand, if you require written communication skills then you should prioritize reading and writing practice.

No matter what, you should include games or something that you find entertaining so that learning Chinese remains enjoyable and doesn’t become a chore.

About Misty Jhones:

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Misty Jones is a health and wellness expert, author, and columnist. She used to deal in the fitness, supplement, bodybuilding, and natural weight loss industry and has been extensively published.

Her frequently groundbreaking journals and articles can be found in many publications like LeahsFitness.Com. She has been a co-author in various researches relating to careers, health, and sports nutrition found in many peer-reviewed journals and websites.

Featured Image Source: iStock

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Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage Operations at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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