Tips on How to Learn Chinese

By OptiLingo

China has become one of the most powerful superpowers thanks to its strong trade ties. Consequently, learning the Chinese language has also become a popular choice. However, a majority of people are clueless where to start from. The other reasons that have led individuals to study it include globalization and changing market dynamics.

Technology has made it simpler to learn Chinese as you can be able to learn it online without actually attending lessons in a school. China has embraced foreign trade and is looking to invest in a wide range of businesses, learning their language with prowess can place you ahead of the global trade.

Historians believe that the Chinese language is one of the oldest written dialects globally and it has existed for approximately 6,000 years. This language is divided into various dialects. This includes indigenous languages, Mandarin, and Cantonese. However, Mandarin Chinese is extremely popular among the youth and globally since it’s considered the official language by the Chinese Government. Although Cantonese is also widely spoken, Mandarin is understood in Macau, Hong Kong, and Canton. Additionally, even people who speak Cantonese are also learning Mandarin nowadays. Canton Chinese is mainly spoken in Taiwan, Chinese towns which are located in the Western region and in Hong Kong.

In addition, written and spoken Chinese is different. The written version includes various symbols. Written Chinese is called Hanzi and it uses the Han character. Chinese is written in an art form known as Calligraphy. During the ancient times, the Chinese language used to be written vertically in columns to be read from top to bottom. Additionally, it would be arranged from right to left in that the initial column would be situated on the page’s right side. Currently, it is written from left to right.

Mandarin has four tones only and the words are pronounced the same way that they are written. However, Cantonese words are not pronounced the same way that they are written. Therefore, the fact that you can converse and comprehend Mandarin doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to understand and speak Cantonese.

Although the Chinese language may be quite difficult to grasp, once you lay a solid foundation it will be much simpler for you. However, the nature of the tone of the language makes it extremely intricate for new learners to comprehend. Nonetheless, experienced linguists have pointed out that for an individual to be fluent in the language it will take an approximate 2,200 hours of classes to learn it. As a result, if you sacrifice only 5 hours a day of practicing Chinese then it will take you about 88 weeks to learn it.

However, prior to beginning the language lessons, you should determine if the Chinese language is ideal for you. In addition, search for any Chinese language material or even books, newspapers, and magazines. So what is the easiest way to learn the language? Here are a few tips that can help you out.

1. Have a conversation partner:

Talk to someone who knows the language with whom you can converse with to practice speech part of it. There are different ways to steer a conversation partner. Look up someone online using sites such as conversation that can provide you with a skilled conversation partner.

Alternatively, use your social skills to convince a Chinese neighbor, a colleague or school mate to practice the language with you.

Furthermore, if you’re around any Chinese people listen to them conversing and observe their pronunciation of words and other nuances that the language has. This will also assist you in grasping the various tones of the language.

2. Acquire a collection of music videos:

Music is an interesting way of learning any foreign language since it’s fun and engaging. If you decide that you desire to learn a new language through music, then it’s important that you download FluentU, an app that makes it easier to grasp any dialect.

The best way to learn Chinese app is to time yourself. In addition, revise the previous content that you grasped to remind yourself of what you learned. Furthermore, Chinese music gives you a peek into the culture and allows you to learn the pronunciation of the language through listening to the words. In addition to this, you can also log onto and for a comprehensive list of videos that you can also use to learn the ancient language.

3. Watch movies with subtitles:

After you have learned the basics you can move a notch higher and download, hire or borrow Chinese movies and variety shows with subtitles. Naturally, watching a movie with subtitles will expose you to new vocabulary and characters making it enjoyable as you practice the words. Consider visiting websites such as that offer a wide range of movies with subtitles. Look up genres that interest you in order to keep you hooked on the movie in order to learn the language.

4. Use podcasts:

Download podcasts that provide a wide range of topics to help you learn Chinese basics. Ensure that you select specific topics. These include art, food, music, history, drama and anything else that interests you so that you can learn new vocabulary. The best way to learn Chinese app like Anki is to be a consistent learner as this app uses a repetitive program that helps you to retain the language in your memory.

5. Search for audiobooks:

Learning a new language entails listening to what is being read. You can download some of the Chinese audiobooks from websites such as Chinese course textbook that give you a chance to read and listen at the same time. The best way to learn Chinese app is to embrace everything you learn and put it into practice.

Remember to write down every new word that you learn so that you can look it up later when practicing the speech part of the language. In addition, consider buying a Chinese dictionary which will assist you in learning new words and their meanings.

Bye to Characters, and Hello to Pinyin

When you look at the intricate, beautiful, confusing written Chinese characters, intimidation can set in from not being able to read anything at first. Some Chinese characters are more than 2,000 years old. Westerners are not familiar with the Chinese characters so using a system called pinyin will help which is a completely phonetic system.

Tones are your Bestfriend

The Chinese language does not have a lot of syllabi so tones are used instead. There are four different tones in the official Mandarin Chinese language. There is also a fifth neutral tone that is not used often in conversation. The purpose of these tones is to assist with word pronunciation and to help differentiate meaning between words.

It will be a challenge to hear and pronounce the tones at the beginning of your learning especially for individuals who have never studied languages that use tones.

At the same time, you do not want to obsess yourself with perfect pronunciation of every tone. Once you have achieved middle (neither a beginner nor an expert) level language abilities, even if you mispronounce or cannot fully hear a tone properly, people will understand what meaning you are going for and you will be able to understand the nuances in the sounds much better.

In the beginning or if you find yourself really struggling with differentiating between different tones:

  1. You can use the context of the conversation to guess what the person is trying to tell you. I.e. you cannot decipher the word but you get that the person is sick and needs to go to the hospital.
  2. Look at the grammatical location of the word in the sentence to figure out how it fits into the other parts of the sentence you can understand.
  3. There are a lot of Chinese words that are duo-syllabic which helps to make them easier to understand.

Remember that although characters are not important for correct pronunciation of the Chinese language, they are still a very useful creation. Initially, there was a huge amount of homonyms in the Chinese language that needed to be resolved. Homonyms are words that are pronounced exactly the same but have totally different definitions or meanings. The establishment of Chinese characters was mandatory to help limit the excess of homonyms to help tell the difference between them since an alphabetical method would be too restricted.

Chinese Grammar

Chinese grammar rules are very different from what you know now as an English native speaker and pleasantly lack a lot of the complexities we are used to. If you recall the days of having to remember which verbs are regular or irregular, memorizing plural noun forms, deciphering between masculine or feminine verbs, you will be happy to know the Chinese language does not have those grammar rules!

First, there is no verb conjugation in Chinese meaning there is only one form for each verb making them all regular, do not worry about irregular verbs, there are none in Chinese! Second, you do not have to regard tenses because, in Chinese, you use particles to show which place in time an action is taking place in, the verb form is independent of the tense. There are no articles in Chinese the way there are in Spanish. This means, the verbs are not given gender qualities, so you can disregard using words like la/el, le.

Another unique grammar rule that differentiates Chinese from other languages is the fact that you do not make words plural that meaning the context of the sentence will be sufficient to indicate if something is spoken of in plural or singular ways. There are no cases since articles are not used, adjectives do not change since there are no declinations by number or gender, and with no inversion, there is a fixed sentence pattern with the subject-verb-object.

Letting go of the myth that Chinese is difficult to learn also comes as a result of the fear people have with learning the Chinese vocabulary. When you are first starting out and learning a few words, you will see that there is a very rational system. You will be glad to know that once you get some essential words under your belt, your learning will start accelerating. As your learning continues to progress, the foundation of knowledge you acquired will begin to build on itself with the new things you learn. This is because many words in the Chinese language stem from one another and some are even combinations of other simple words you have learned.

There are countless examples of how the Chinese language uses single characters with meanings that people know in order to create new words. Combining characters with simple meanings to form new words makes this language straightforward and pretty transparent.


There is no doubt that Chinese characters are arguably the most frightening part when beginning your language journey. Though it is not critical right away, learning the characters will be an important part of the advanced development of your skills. Generally speaking, there are three groups of Chinese characters can fit in: pictograms, ideograms, and radical-phonetic compounds. Pictograms are more like the visual symbol for a certain object, ideograms convey theoretical ideas, and radical-phonetic compounds which most characters fall in involves an element of definition and one of pronunciation.

Like with any new thing, you will make mistakes in the beginning. If you put your fears aside and follow our tips, you will be proud of yourself and surprised at how easy to learn Chinese!

6. Use apps:

This article has mentioned various apps that can assist you in learning the Chinese language effectively and successfully. However, there are others that can assist you in delving deeper into the ancient language.

These apps basically assist you in envisioning the Chinese language in a natural setting. Others will assist in obtaining a clear pronunciation of a Chinese word or even acquiring the natural way of expressing it. Moreover, they also teach you the Chinese vocabulary and how you will memorize it and retain it for future use. Furthermore, others will give you a grasp of how you can write the Chinese language.

Other apps use unique ways of teaching the Chinese language. These include learning games among other methods.