Feature: 5 ways to make Mandarin easier

Top tips to better your Chinese. These days Mandarin is considered a must-have. It’s widely spoken across the globe, but it’s a tricky one to learn. Here’s the best way to get on top of the lingo


1 Pinyin or more? – Purists would recommend learning to write the characters from the outset, rather than just the “pinyin’ (phoenetically written Chinese). There is an argument to say that simply getting used to the pinyin and the sounds is a better way to start. Once you’re able to say simple sentences, the writing can follow. If you’re on a more intensive course then you might as well learn both.


2 Talking tones – Here’s the thing, it may sound ilke a lot of white noise to you, but to native Mandarin speakers it is all about the tones, all four of them, all of which need learning. Say “shu” and you could be talking about a book or an uncle! Say “ma” and you could be calling for a horse or your mother (you don’t want to mix that one up). Relax, use your ears, and let your mouth settle into these odd new positions. You’ll sound better when you try not to overthink.


3 Learn with a friend – Studying is more fun when there’s two of you sharing the journey. You can do homework together and test each other. Listening to someone else attempt the words is as useful as doing it yourself, and acts as a reflection for your own learning.


4 Watch more telly – This is the perfect excuse to switch on the box. If you can’t pay the airfare to live in China for a month then bring the country to your home, through TV progammes with subtitles. You’ll soon recognise the most common repeated words, like “wo” (“I), “bu” (“not” or “no”), and “xie xie” (“thank you”).


5 Class politics – You’re only as comfortable as the language class you choose. Are you better in a one-to-one setting, or would you prefer a crowd? Get your selection right and you’ll be off to a winning start.


If you can master Mandarin, it’s not just your business that will profit. Taking on any new language is a major confidence booster, and who knows, you might even make some new friends in the process!


For more information on finding a language class in Singapore, CLICK HERE

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