Sunday, June 14, 2015

Top 5 ways to learn Chinese

By +Alexa Rankin

There are many methods of learning Chinese available today, across a range of budgets, each one using a slightly different style and with varying levels of results. Read on to discover the top 5 ways to become conversationally fluent in Chinese.

Top 5 ways to learn Chinese
The picture says it all. Top 5 ways to learn Chinese
Chinese is considered to be a tough language to learn, with over 3500 pictograph symbols and numerous homophones which are only distinguishable by the intonation put on them, but once you get past that it gets easier. The sentence structure is the same as in English (subject-action-object I-go to-the store, Brad-looks at-internet porn etc.)

With this in mind, my list consists of only the best ways to learn conversational Chinese. These methods won't help you to translate the literary works of Mao Tse-tung, make you a math genius or conduct a business meeting with the owners of most of the global banks, but they will help you engage in conversation with residents of Chinatown.

Rosetta Stone
1. Rosetta Stone
This is the most expensive, but also the most effective way of learning conversational Chinese. A series of computer based courses take you into an immersive interactive world where you learn Chinese using visual cues and voice prompts. The program listens to your voice and grades your proficiency before continuing. The system works by beating you senseless with repetition until the Chinese language sticks in your brain.

Ni Hao Kai Lan
2. Ni Hao Kai Lan
Totally free but not very comprehensive. Kai Lan is Nick Jr.'s Chinese speaking starlet, who shares Chinese culture and language with the help of her friends Tolee, Rintoo, Hoho all under the guidance of her paternal grandpa Ye Ye. Not only does Kai Lan share AmeriSino culture but in the 40 shows, she has taught us 63 Chinese words and with a little interpolation this can be converted to a basic conversation with a pre-schooler.

Immersion with Chinese people
3. Immersion with Chinese people
Free and fairly effective. This is how many Chinese people learn how to speak Chinese, and it works very well for them since they begin the course from birth. For those who already have a first language, there are mixed results. Numerous factors can cause variations in results but overall learning is fairly comprehensive. Care must be taken to select the right group of people so as not to become a Triad drug mule.

Fortune Cookie
4. Fortune Cookie
This can be fairly costly since you need to purchase food to get the cookie. If you use what you have learned so far then maybe you can get friendly with the people at the Chinese restaurant and maybe have them slip you a couple of extra cookies, which will help keep the costs down. Or you can buy them in bulk from for the price of a special fried rice and a couple of egg rolls. In addition to learning Chinese, you get a tasteless cookie, some lucky numbers and a modicum of wisdom.

Watch Bruce Lee movies without subtitles
5. Watching Bruce Lee movies without subtitles
Fairly low cost and effective so long as you want your vocabulary to consist of phrases like "Boards don't hit back", "Beat it or I'll kill you right now", "Now you get out of here, I'm warning you", "You bastards can't push us around" and  "If you wanna fight, I'll take you on". And of course the most unforgettable word in the Bruce Lee book of fighting phrases, "Wataaah". This method is not recommended unless you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

Zhè shì qián wǔ míng de fāngfǎ xuéxí zhōngguó duìhuà
That was the top 5 methods for learning conversational Chinese

Which of these methods works best for you? Share you experiences with learning Chinese or any other language in our comments section below. We really do love to hear from you.

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