As a Chinese teacher in Silk Mandarin I once believed that most expats in China were already learning Chinese. Surprisingly, however, I was told by some students recently that many of their friends have never tried to learn Chinese after living in China for such a long time!
It's 2022 now - do you still believe in the old expat rumour that "learning Chinese is very difficult (or even impossible)?"
I'm writing this article to tell you that things have changed.
I will explain to you how we "simplify" Chinese learning following next 3 aspects:
We have many students coming to us saying that they still can't speak in Chinese even though they remember all the words. They simply find it too hard to put the words into the right order and make a proper sentence, and this literally stops them from talking. Yes, they say there are too many grammar rules to remember, and no logic which helps them to see the bigger picture. But there is a logic! And we came up with it. It helps you to learn Mandarin with just one rule instead of dozens, and indeed boosts your speaking!
Never believe the terrifying talk like "we only need 26 letters to communicate but they need to remember thousands of characters!"
First, Chinese characters work completely different from the Latin alphabet. Every character contains meaning. To build a word, we normally just put 2 characters together. With your level getting higher and higher, you will have less and less new characters to learn to make new words.
I know that at the beginning of character learning, it can be challenging being faced with a bunch of strange stroke-made signs, but once you overcome it with the professional systematic guidance (of course you need to review after class!), you will tremendously benefit from Hanzi skills.
According to the frequency analysis of Chinese characters, you only need around 1000 characters to cover more than 90% of the characters in Chinese newspapers, which is even less than HSK4 requires!
If 1000 characters is a too high target to reach, then try 149 characters! If you remember 10 characters every day, then it takes only two weeks to cover 50% of the characters in a regular article! That doesn't sound more difficult than any of your fitness program goals, right?
Speaking Chinese in real life is always an issue for students.
"People can never understand me." Or "They always use English to answer even though I spoke Chinese to them!"
Your Chinese audience may behave a bit reluctant when you try to talk to them. But much more important is your attitude here: don't give up easily when you decide to speak Chinese! In Silk Mandarin we always "force" our students to try their best to put what they have learnt into use. To do this, we really tried using different ways:
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