Learning a foreign language is difficult and this often discourages many people from even starting to learn one in the first place. Since the advent of the internet, however, it has gotten innumerably easier. You no longer have to wait for your assigned classroom times to work on your studies, the internet allows you to study at any and all hours of the day. Additionally, many internet resources are free or low cost, often making them much more affordable than a limited classroom session. In addition, the sheer size of the internet puts literally hundreds of thousands of these affordable (or free) resources into the hands of the student. The Wiki How article titled ‘How to Learn Chinese Numbers Quickly Using Wild Association‘ is one of these free sources. It was written by 10 different experts, collaborating together to make a resource that could be understood by anyone easily, without an advanced degree in foreign language or any previous experience in Chinese. The following paragraphs will provide a run down of their guide for an easy way to learn Chinese numbers.
This resource uses association to teach Chinese numbers, as in, they give examples of sounds or words that a native English speaker would already be familiar with. For 1, the association word is ‘easy.’ For 2, the association sound is the letter ‘R.’ For 3, it is the word ‘sandwich.’ For 4, it is the word ‘curtain.’ 5 is just the word ‘who.’ 6 is a the boy’s name ‘Leo.’ For 7, the associative word is ‘cheese.’ For 8, the word is ‘grandpa.’ For 9, the word is ‘juice.’ And finally, for 0 is the word ‘link.’ These words and sounds, or parts of them are the same sounds to pronounce the corresponding Chinese numbers. For native English speakers, this is a fun and easy way to learn Chinese numbers.
The next part of the article writes the sounds out for the numbers with English letters. They are as follows. 1 is pronounced like ‘yi,’ like the first and last parts of the word ‘easy.’ This follows the associative word as mentioned before. Next, number 2 is pronounced ‘er,’ with a hard ‘r’ sound. As you recall, the associative sound provided for 2 was an ‘R’ sound. Number 3 is pronounced ‘san,’ just like the first syllable for the word ‘sandwich’ which was the third associative word used. The Chinese character also looks like a sandwich, so if a student decides to continue their Chinese studies and begin learning the writing system; then they will already have a few characters known. The associated word for the number 4 was ‘curtain.’ 4 is pronounced like ‘si’ or ‘ce’ as it sounds in the word ‘curtain’ or the word ‘force.’ This is another case in which the character looks similar to the association word used in the article. This was incredibly smart article writing and design by its authors because it subconsciously teaches even more than it promises and students take away more from this resource than expected.
The pronunciation for the number 5 is ‘wu.’ This is pronounced like ‘who’ without the hard inflection of the ‘h.’ The pronunciation for 6 is ‘liu’ or ‘leo.’ Leo is the name of the boy from the graphic and the Chinese character for the number 6 also looks like a happy and dancing little boy. Number 7 is pronounced like ‘chee’ or ‘chi’ or ‘qi.’ This is said just like the first syllable of ‘cheese’ which was the association for this number. In addition, the Chinese character for 7 looks just like a crossed 7 turned upside down. The article draws attention to this and provides the reader again with additional knowledge. The association and pronunciation for number 8 is a bit of a stretch. The associate word and picture was a grandpa, and grandpa likes going to the bar. Thus, the pronunciation of number 8 is ‘ba’ like the first two thirds of the word ‘bar.’ This stretch occurs, however, because the authors wanted to illustrate how much the character for number 8 looks like a moustache of an old man. Number 9 is pronounced with English sounds like ‘jiu.’ This is not unlike the first syllable of the word ‘juice,’ which was provided as the associative picture. Finally, the number 0 is pronounced like ‘lin,’ or link without the ‘k.’ The character is drawn just like an ‘O,’ which looks just like the link of a necklace or a fence.
These wild associations are used to help teach the Chinese numbers and their recitation to individuals who are new to learning Chinese and cannot yet read the complex and difficult Chinese alphabet. This method introduces them in associations and sounds that are already familiar enough and therefore approachable. In addition, it provides a rudimentary base that can comprise of a students first lesson in learning Chinese as a whole. It is likely that a student’s pronunciations will not be perfect at first, considering that these are only likenesses, and not perfect Chinese pronunciations. The authors notes provide sound samples of each other these numbers so students can hear and repeat the words in order to get the pronunciation perfect – or at least much closer – than they could just by reading it.
The authors suggest that that students may find it helpful to come up with their own associations to the numbers, even if they like the ones used in the examples. Having to think about language sounds in this manner will help further solidify the concepts in the students’ minds. In addition, it is a good teaching exercise. The authors also provided the characters for each letter within the article. They suggest practising writing the characters as well, for two reasons. The first is that it will add another layer to the learning of the numbers and cement it further into a students brain. The second is that the Chinese alphabet has thousands of regularly used characters that can be difficult for English speakers to learn and master. Learning characters piece wise while picking up vocabulary makes in significantly easier and more approachable. Given all of these, as well as the hundreds of thousands of online resources available, anyone and everyone can learn Chinese (or any language of their choice for that matter) online for free or very cheap. The internet has completely changed the way that students can study a foreign language and has made it significantly easier. There are also native speakers that are willing to chat with students online so that they can refine their language skills. Good luck with your studies!
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