How to learn Chinese

BY CchattyArticleComprehensive Chinese
Release time:2018-03-14
Tag: Learn Chinese
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learn Chinese questions? how, why, who, what, where, and when. From this article, you will know clearly how to learn Chinese, and you will find learn Chinese is easy.
part 1

Why to Learn Chinese


  1. Why to Learn Chinese
  2. Easy to Learn Chinese
  3. How long to Learn Chinese
  4. How to Learn Chinese Effectively
  5. How to Find Online Materials to Learn Chinese 
  6. How to Choose Chinese Textbooks 
  7. How to Choose a Professional Chinese Teacher 
  8. How to Learn Chinese Pronunciation 
  9. How to Learn Chinese Characters
  10. How to Learn Chinese Grammar
  11. How to Test Chinese Proficiency 
  12. How to Learn Chinese in China

China is playing an increasingly important role in global economic and cultural exchanges, as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said: if you do not understand China, you cannot keep up with the future world. The most effective way to understand China is to understand the Chinese language.

China is one of the four great ancient civilizations. It has a long and splendid culture. The Chinese language is unique and complex with a rich vocabulary. It can express delicate feelings. Many outstanding literary works are written in Chinese. The mastery of Chinese is the mastery of the splendid Chinese culture. The Chinese language is closely related to other Asian languages, such as Japanese, Korean, etc. Therefore, mastering Chinese is also important for learning other languages.

To learn Chinese is an inevitable trend in the process of economic globalization.

1, Chinese is the most widely spoken languages in the world

According to the statistics released by the United Nations, Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world with approximately 1.6 billion people worldwide speaking the language. In other words, 25% of the global population speaks Chinese. Thus if you can speak Chinese, you can communicate with 1/4 of the world's people. In addition, Chinese is one of the six working languages of the United Nations.

Outside China, Mandarin is also spoken in countries such as Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Philippines, and Mongolia, so if you do business in these countries, it would be beneficial to know the Chinese language.

Moreover, some of the major countries are planning to train millions of people to speak Chinese in the next three years, such as the United States, Russia, Britain and so on.

2,  Learn Chinese, Know China

The Chinese civilization is one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world. It has a history of more than 5,000 years. In its feudal times, China was the most powerful country in the world. Its science and technology back then was highly developed, and made significant contributions to the development of mankind, for example, paper and gunpowder were first invented by ancient Chinese.

1)   China's land area is now the third largest in the world, covering 9.6 million square kilometers. China boasts all kinds of natural landscape, historical relics, ancient buildings, as well as many beautiful natural sceneries, which are worth visiting.

2)   There are 56 ethnic groups in China, each of which has its own characteristics and living habits. However, after thousands of years of national amalgamation, a much-unified identity among the Chinese has been formed. Also, different religions coexist in peace, and there are almost no religious conflicts.

3)   The Chinese food is becoming more and more popular around the world. In the Eight Great Cuisines of various flavors, there will always be some dishes that you can’t wait to have. 

"The Chinese eat everything with four legs, except tables, and everything that flies, except airplanes." -  Anon

4)  China, once a traditional agricultural country, is now about to become a technological powerhouse. Its economy will soon lead the world. Its R&D cost, at present, ranks second in the world. In 2016, China surpassed all other countries in terms of the number of patents (40% of the global total). Although China is still a developing country in terms of per capita income, certainly China will become a developed country in the next 20 to 30 years if the current trend continues.  

3, Great opportunities for China's economy

No international companies want to give up the opportunities provided by 1.3 billion people. China's economic growth has entered a new era, and it is growing at a speed of more than 6 percent per year. However, although China’s high-speed rail, the Internet economy, and the mobile payment have witnessed a rapid growth, problems such as regional development imbalances and industrial inefficiencies still exist.

Many industries now have to produce high-quality products to meet the needs of the people. This process is known as consumption upgrades. In North America and Europe, developed countries produce highly mature products. If we can further open up the market, the Chinese economy would enjoy more opportunities. At the same time, China initiated the Belt and Road economic development plan, which presents opportunities for cooperation with developing countries.

In 2017, 130 million Chinese citizens have traveled abroad, spending $115.29 billion in total. If you can speak Chinese, more Chinese tourists will be likely to visit your hometown, which is also a business opportunity.

4, International job

International companies are more likely to hire people who can speak multiple languages.

China has become a huge market, and business leaders are looking for people who can speak Chinese and work effectively under the Chinese culture.

When you apply for an important position, the skill of speaking Chinese may bring you some advantages.

China will play an important role in future world affairs. As China becomes more and more open, we face more and more job opportunities.

5, Why is it difficult to learn Chinese?

It's not that hard. There are only 3,500 common Chinese characters. The Chinese language features the combination of the Chinese Characters. We don't have to create new characters to present new information. English is the opposite. People need to create new words to add to the vocabulary whenever new information appears. According to statistics from The New York Times, about one to twenty thousand new words are added to the English vocabulary per year. 

Every language has its own characteristics. Therefore, once we find these characteristics, learning Chinese will become easier.

part 2

Easy to Learn Chinese

7 Fast steps to learn Chinese

Every language has its own characteristics, especially the Chinese language. Chinese is the only ideographic script in the world. If you don't know this word, you can't pronounce. This is also why beginners think it is not easy to learn Chinese. However, learning Chinese will become easy if you know the following facts.

1, Phonetic Characters and Ideographic Characters

Phonetic Characters mean that words are only for pronunciation. You can pronounce the word while you may not know what its meaning is, such as English (all languages except for Chinese). Therefore, you would feel it is easy to learn a language consisting of phonetic characters.

Ideographic Characters mean that the words indicate meaning. You definitely cannot pronounce a word if you don't know its meaning. Thus, you might feel unsafe and even fearful. Then you think it is very hard to learn. The upside is that even if you don't know how to pronounce an Ideographic Characters, you can still guess the meaning from its components, e.g., the component "木" = tree, so "林" = some trees, "森" = many trees (forest). Of course, there are several ways to make Chinese characters, which will be explained later.

2, The pronunciation of Chinese characters

Chinese characters are the only characters in the world whose pronunciation has four tones. That is another reason why foreigners feel Chinese is not easy to learn. If they want to pronounce correctly, they must learn the 4 tones well. The pronunciation of Chinese is 3~7 times that of English. Mandarin has 20 initials, 39 finals, and 4 tones, and can be used for 2, 500 sounds, often with 1,200 sounds. For different tones, the corresponding Chinese characters may be completely different, for example, "妈mā" = mom, "麻má" = fiber, "马mǎ" = horse, "骂mà" = scold. Therefore, the beginners must master the tone and pay special attention to pronunciation. Since pronunciation is so important to learning Chinese, learners must pay special attention to fundamental courses. (It is best to start with a professional teacher)

3, The Chinese Characters

The Chinese language has 3,500 daily words, and it is very flexible to combine words.

Now, the number of English words has exceeded 1 million, and the average person can never remember it all. According to the New York Times, there are between 10,000 and 20,000 new words per year. While for Chinese, there is no need to make new words. All English words can be expressed in 3,500 Chinese characters.

To study Chinese characters, learners must understand the meaning of the radicals. After mastering 1500 Chinese characters (HSK4 or above), the learner will have the ability to learn by himself, which makes the learning process easier in the future.

4, China's Dialects

Every country has dialects and there are many dialects in China. We need to learn Mandarin Chinese so that all Chinese people can understand it. In addition, Chinese teachers generally have the certificate of Mandarin test. Every country has dialects and there are many dialects in China. People need to learn Mandarin so that all Chinese people can understand each other. In addition, Chinese teachers usually have the certificate of Mandarin test.

There are also some students who need to learn Cantonese. Cantonese and mandarin are completely different in pronunciation. Many Chinese people cannot understand Cantonese.

It is not recommended to learn other dialects unless you have learned Mandarin well.

5, Chinese grammar

Chinese grammar is very simple. There are no verb changes, no plural nouns, and no gender of nouns, etc.

6, All in All

Learning Chinese is not easy at first, but it will be easier in the future. In the early stage, learners need to learn pronunciation and listening well. In the medium term, they should strengthen Chinese reading and writing. If learners keep on learning, they will be able to master Chinese (reach HSK6, the highest Chinese level) in 3~5 years.

part 3

How long to Learn Chinese

How long will it take to learn Chinese well

Chinese is not easy for beginners, so they need more learning skills and guidance at the beginning. In the intermediate level, however, it will become easier. After mastering 1500 words, they will be able to learn by themselves, which takes about 1~2 years. Generally speaking, to speak fluent Chinese, the European and American students need 3 ~ 5 years, while those students in the Chinese Culture Circle need about 2 ~3 years. The key facts for beginners are as follows:

  1. Speaking and listening are very important for beginners. Learners can listen to Chinese music, sing Chinese songs, and watch bilingual Chinese TV programs. Although the meanings are not very clear, it is very helpful for the cultivation of language sense.
  2. Read aloud, speak bravely and don't be shy. It is natural to make mistakes.
  3. Practice pronunciation with professional Chinese teachers and strengthen the practice of tones. If the tone is wrong, the meaning will be completely different.
  4. Recite some texts, words and short daily sentences.
  5. Participate in some activities of Chinese culture or visit China in person to enhance perceptual knowledge. Learning will be easier after one experiences it himself.
  6. Know some Chinese friends and spoken Chinese with them.
  7. Perseverance. After 1~2 years, one will find that your Chinese level has been greatly improved. And the future learning will become relatively easy.
  8. Taking the exam of the HSK4 level means that the learners have learned 1,200 Chinese words after 1~2 years of study. They can pass the HSK4 level definitely through the pre-examination training. Taking an examination is a recognition of oneself and a systematic arrangement of the previous knowledge through examination. After passing the exam, you will feel more satisfied and have more confidence in your future study.

part 4

How to Learn Chinese Effectively

How to learn Chinese effectively

How to learn Chinese effectively? Since Chinese language itself has many characteristics, it is very different from How to learn Chinese effectively? Since Chinese language itself has many characteristics, it is very different from English and other languages. In general, when learning Chinese, it is not easy to learn at the beginning. The Chinese language is very different from learners’ native languages, and Chinese characters is a big challenge.

First of all, learners should know their goal of learning, which means that they should have a learning plan or learning expectation before the start, as well as different learning goal and different learning methods. Generally speaking, you need to:

1,  Determine the learning goals and choose the appropriate textbook.

For example, you want to learn everyday Chinese, business Chinese, medical Chinese, Chinese proficiency test or other special Chinese. The vocabulary in each domain is different, the learning materials and the content are different, and the final goal is different.

2, Choose the right teacher

Chinese teachers can be divided into 3 types. Learners should choose one according to their learning goals. For example, oral communication partners, tutors, and professional teachers. If they only want to speak some basic spoken language, they should find an oral native partner. If they want to learn Chinese systematically, they will have to find a professional Chinese teacher.

3, Learning progress

It is not easy for beginners to learn Chinese. Learning at an early stage is very important, and the basic pronunciation is more important. If necessary, learners can even learn the basic courses twice. Basic knowledge and pronunciation must be learned well, which is very important for Chinese learning.

4, Learning focus

Due to the characteristics of Chinese and the special features of Chinese characters, beginners should focus on listening and speaking. Middle and senior students need to focus on reading and writing. In addition, when children start to learn Chinese, they can practice listening, speaking, reading and writing comprehensively.

part 5

How to Find Online Materials to Learn Chinese

learn Chinese online materials - teachers

       1, CCHATTY - A place for learning and teaching Chinese online

Now the Internet is very developed, people can find a lot of very good learning materials in the network. Here, we will focus on our one-stop foreign language platform, CCHATTY.

CCHATTY is a professional platform for online Chinese teaching, linking students with Chinese teachers. CCHATTY is the most professional Chinese language learning platform. It is a one-stop learning platform for Chinese learning. Here, it is easy to learn Chinese and happy to make friends.

1) Provide Chinese teaching and learning services.

2) Provide Chinese teaching courseware downloading in PDF (free and paid)

3) Provide network community BBS and social network function.

4) Provide articles about China and Chinese learning

5) Provide 21 Chinese courses for students to learn the Chinese language in various professional fields.

For students:

1) We can find and choose a teacher according to your liking.

2) We can check the teaching experience, grade, certificate of teachers and others.

3) You can pay the fee at once separately, without paying a lot of money at one time.

4) We can pay the teacher only after you are satisfied/confirmed with your course.

5) We can schedule your courses according to your own time.

6) We can train your writing skill and answer any learning questions, and they will be answered by professional Chinese teachers.

For teachers:

1) We can post your own courses.

2) You can set your own course time.

3) You can sell your own teaching courseware.

4) We can set our expenses according to your level.

5) You may apply for the overseas job as a Chinese teacher in the future.

2, 6 Best apps about learning Chinese

Best apps for learning Chinese – CHINESESKILL, Pleco, Memrise, FluentU, Hello HSK, and DU CHINESE.

1) CHINESESKILL –Learn Chinese is just like playing games - FREE

CHINESESKILL is like a game application for Chinese language learning. The overall system is similar with Duolingo. It lets the user play “game” while learning Chinese. This method can also strengthen memory.

2) PLECO –The best Chinese dictionary - PART FREE

Pleco is the ultimate Chinese partner – integrated dictionary/document reader/word card system. It supports full-screen handwriting input and real-time OCR function. The company behind it has been committed to the development of the world’s best mobile Chinese learning applications since 2001.

3) MEMRISE - Learn Chinese with Flashcard - PART FREE

Memrise is founded by Cooke, Grandmaster of Memory, and Dr. Greg Detre of the neuroscience department at Princeton University.

The teaching characteristic of Memrise is that the study and test must be combined. It makes the memory graph crowdsourcing to community members, and then reuse online courses taught to the user. GIF animation is one of the forms of graphics used to strengthen user’s memory of a word. The aim is to help you to learn quickly and without pain, as well as to make learning a leisure activity.

Of course, there are many aspects of learning Chinese, like the words, short sentence, HSK, reading skills and others.

4) FLUENT U –Learn Chinese with videos - NO FREE

FluentU is to teach people to learn different languages through real-life videos. Users can watch the videos showing different scenarios of the real world to learn Chinese, German, Japanese, and English and so on.

The biggest obstacle to learning a language is that when learning a language, people cannot use it in real life. The most reasonable way to learn is to learn in daily life. Through all sorts of music, video, movie trailers, such as news and inspiring lecture video, this method aims to strengthen language ability.


Hello HSK course is for students who want to pass Chinese proficiency test (HSK) test. Courses include a unique learning system featuring classification. There are 30 sets of simulated tests as well as 60 sets of past exam papers.

According to the purpose of HSK Test, "to promote teaching through test", Hello HSK has combined frequently tested content with daily expressions, and reorganized and re-edited them in terms of 9 dimensions, including degrees of difficulty, type, question type, scenario and function etc, which have finally formed a unique classification method.


Du Chinese is a revolutionary Mandarin reading app that lets you quickly look up any word or sentence with a simple tap. The lessons include English translations of every word and sentences. All of them are recorded in real human voice, which is synchronized with the text. The word translation is context-dependent so as to show learners the meaning of the words in the current sentence.

Du Chinese's lessons are of various difficulties ranging from newbie to master, and new lessons are added frequently. The lessons cover topics from everyday life in China including business, and the latest trends.

3, Chinese input software

Many people now practice writing Chinese characters on their computers, and the HSK test also has a computer test. There are many ways to input Chinese characters. In general, the most popular one is Pinyin input method, which means you can input Chinese characters if you can read them.

There is also the radicals input method, which uses radicals to input Chinese characters to the computer. This method is difficult, therefore, most Chinese people do not use this type of input method.

One of the most popular Pinyin input methods is the clouds Sogou input method. It has a Lenovo input function, the fuzzy input function and a very rich thesaurus. After registration, your own word library and most used words are saved in the cloud, so the Sogou software on multiple devices can be in sync. In addition, Sogou input method also has a mobile version, and a voice input mode. This input method is free, and more than 84 percent of Chinese use this input software.

4, Translation Software

Youdao translation software has website version, PC version, and mobile version. In addition to Chinese - English and English - Chinese translation, the software also supports Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish and Russian. The translation accuracy of the software is relatively high, and it is free, and a good helper for learning Chinese.

5, HSK, Chinese Proficiency Test (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi)

HSK's official website includes test time arrangements, test information, online testing, online registration, score checking and other information related to the HSK test.


6, Chinese textbook

Beijing Language and Culture University is the best Chinese learning university in China. It publishes a variety of Chinese language learning books every year, and its online bookstore also provide global express service.

part 6

How to Choose Chinese Textbooks

How to choose Chinese textbooks

There are more than 12,000 Chinese textbooks in the global market, how to find and choose one?  Of course, you could find some on Amazon and online stores. But here are some popular textbooks for different purposes:

1, Short-term Chinese learning (3 months)

"Conversational Chinese 301" is intended to be an intensive course book for foreigners who have just started to study Chinese. This book consists of 40 lessons and 8 reviews. The 40 lessons encompass nearly 30 communicative functions such as “Greeting” and “Making an Acquaintance”, as well as 800 new words and rudimentary Chinese grammar. The first edition is from 1990. It has been revised 3 times and are still very popular.

2, Primary and intermediate oral Chinese (6 months ~ 12 months)

"Short-Term Spoken Chinese"  is widely used as a short-term oral Chinese learning textbook. It includes 5 levels, namely Threshold, Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate and Advanced. Threshold and Elementary level are very good for beginners while other levels are not comprehensive. The first edition is from 1999. It has been revised 3 times, and is a popular short-term oral textbook.

3, Comprehensive textbook (12 months~36 months)

"Developing Chinese" is a new textbook for comprehensive Chinese. It includes 28 volumes and has 34 books in total. From elementary to advanced level, the textbook covers comprehensive, listening, speaking, reading, and writing lessons. The content of the book is very rich, the exercises are also abundant, and the topics are relatively new. It is very suitable for long-term Chinese learners. The whole set has made some new attempts to diversify the language styles and registers, to systemize and specialize language elements, language knowledge and the training of language skills, to reveal the rich and varied social life in modern China.

4, Business Chinese (12 months ~ 36 months)

"Winning in China"

This set of textbooks consists of 3 volumes: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. The volume of Basic is further divided into 3 books, accompanied by another book, Pronunciation and Chinese Characters, to reinforce the teaching of Chinese pronunciation and Chinese characters. It is suitable for the Foreign-China Managers Exchange and Training Programme takers and other learners of business Chinese without any Chinese learning experience. It features a wide range of topics, information, and exercises and attaches equal importance to practices in language structures and business communications.

5, Medical Chinese (24 months ~ 60 months)

"Practical Medical Chinese" is intended to teach traditional Chinese medicine. It consists of 3 volumes: Elementary, Preclinical, and Clinical. There are 4 books in each volume, 12 books in total. The textbook contains not only Chinese learning, but also much medical professional knowledge.

6, Children Chinese (Mainly for middle school students)

"Easy Steps to Chinese" includes 8 books and has 3 stages: stage 1 – books 1 and 2; stage 2 – book 3, 4, 5 and 6; and stage 3 – book 7 and 8. The primary goal of this series Easy Steps to Chinese is to help the students establish a solid foundation of rudimentary vocabulary, knowledge of Chinese and communication skills through the natural and gradual integration of language, content, and cultural elements. This series adopts a holistic approach and is designed to emphasize the development of communication skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing.

7, HSK test (Chinese proficiency test)

"Analyses of HSK Official Examination Papers Level 1 ~ 6" 

To prepare for HSK test, first, one needs some past/mock test paper to exercise his skills. The book offers a complete and thorough analysis of HSK Official Examination Papers (2014) and provides different solutions to the various forms of test questions. In addition, each writing exercise is accompanied by several versions of sample passages so as to help exam-takers better understand the question and pass the examination. Moreover, the book is aimed at enhancing the language skills of Chinese learners through its summary of some keywords and grammar points. HSK tutors can also use this book for reference.

"Frequency-based HSK Vocabulary"  

The Frequency-based HSK Vocabulary series consists of four volumes: Levels 1-3, Level 4, Level 5 and Level 6. These are compiled in accordance with the Chinese Proficiency Test Syllabus and contain a full list of the vocabulary required by the test. The vocabulary is ordered by their frequency in the test and divided into four categories: super-high frequency, high frequency, low frequency and zero frequency. Sample sentences are based on the HSK test papers to help students gain a better understanding of the test points and focus on key and difficult words.


Sinolingua Press online bookstore:

Beijing Language and Culture University Press online bookstore:

part 7

How to Choose a Professional Chinese Teacher

professional Chinese teachers

If you have just begun to learn Chinese, you need to choose a professional Chinese teacher so as to make your study more effective. At the same time, before the learning starts, you should also clarify your learning objectives.

1.If you just want to learn spoken Chinese and understand basic Chinese, you can find a language partner and converse with each other using Chinese.

A) Pros: No cost, very flexible learning time, possibility to make some friends.

B) Cons: No systematic learning methods, low effectiveness, and the possibility to give up.


2. To achieve a certain level of Chinese, there need to be clear learning goals, such as remembering 100 basic dialogues in Chinese. It is necessary to find a teacher with some tutor experience, who lack professional skills but is full of enthusiasm.

A) Pros: Having short-term goals, able to achieve some of the targets and low cost.

B) Cons: Many unpredictable difficulties, and hard to advance the teaching process.


3.  If the purpose of learning is clear, then the learner has to find some materials before learning and even know some basic Chinese. All this requires professional Chinese teachers who know many learning methods and are able to provide learning materials and mid-long term learning plans.

A) Pros: having clear goals, easy to achieve learning results, and extremely helpful for systematic Chinese learning.

B) Cons: difficulties in finding suitable professional teachers, high cost.


There are three types of Chinese teachers to choose from.

1, Language partner 

Since the teacher acts like a partner, so the atmosphere is very casual. The teacher is usually a Chinese native, but don't necessarily know good learning methods. Given the fact that the learning goal is to understand basic Chinese, a reliable teacher, having standard Chinese pronunciation and fluent in a foreign language will suffice.

2.  Some teachers have Chinese teaching experience but may not be professionally trained. These teachers understand Chinese teaching but possess no good teaching skills.

This kind of teachers is expected to be reliable, responsible, and enthusiastic. He or she speaks standard Mandarin and can find ways to solve the needs of the Chinese learners.

3. The third type of Chinese teacher is a professional. It is not easy to judge the credentials of such teachers, and we are not inclined to ask for certificates. So in general, we look for these teachers in third-party platforms. Teaching Chinese is difficult, but teaching Chinese well is more challenging. In addition to requiring such teachers to have professional knowledge and qualifications, we can also judge the credentials of these teachers based on the following points.

1) All Chinese class

In class, there are few foreign languages used, and has methods matter in Chinese teaching. It is not necessary to explain the Chinese in a foreign language. If the teacher always uses foreign languages to explain Chinese, then he or she has not enough Chinese teaching skills. He or she is more of a good translator than a good teacher.

2) Pleasant classroom atmosphere

The teacher will often use interesting examples to liven up the class. This means that the teacher has abundant teaching experience. Besides theoretical knowledge, he or she also knows how to skillfully apply theoretical knowledge in actual classrooms.

3) Patience

It shows that the teacher understands the needs of all the students and knows how to guide the students to learn.

4) Learning content that is close to life 

It shows that the teacher usually makes preparations before the class including learning content and lesson schedule. This reflects the professionalism of the teacher.

5) Decent dress

Professional teachers need to pay special attention their clothes.

6) Extensive knowledge of the culture of students' home countries

In short, professional teachers know how to make the learning experience easier for students.

part 8

How to Learn Chinese Pronunciation

How to learn Chinese pronunciation

As long as you master Chinese pronunciation skills, Chinese pronunciation will become easy.

Chinese is made of Ideographic Characters. Therefore, Chinese learners in many countries feel that Chinese is so difficult. In fact, it is not the case. Once you are familiar with Phonetic Characters (English and all another language), the Ideographic Characters will be easy to learn.

1, Master the Pinyin

Let's talk about the rules of Chinese pronunciation, which is the rule of Pinyin. The history of Pinyin is not long. It was established in China in 1955 as a phonetic system of symbols for the Chinese government to promote the pronunciation of Chinese. So Chinese learners who want to master the pronunciation of Chinese characters should master Pinyin first.

1) Initials and finals

Chinese pinyin has 20 initials and 39 finals. A Chinese syllable is usually composed of an initial and a final. The former is a consonant that begins the syllable and the latter is the rest of the syllable.

2) Tones

Tones are changes of the pitch of syllables. Standard Chinese has four basic tones, represented by the following tone-graphs respectively: the first tone (→), the second tone (↗), the third tone (↘↗) and the fourth tone (↘). When a syllable is pronounced in different tones, it has different meanings. For example:

(妮 girl)  nī = n + i, (n) + (i) + (→)

(泥 mud) ní = n + i,  (n) + (i) + (↗)

(你 you)  nǐ= n + i,   (n) + (i) + (↘↗)

(逆 opposite) nì = n + i, (n) + (i) + (↘)

3) Tone position

When a syllable contains a single vowel, the tone-mark is placed above the vowel sound, e.g., "nī".

When a syllable contains two or more vowel, the tone-make should be placed above the main vowel (the one pronounced more loudly and clearly), e.g., "mā", "hǎo", "zuò".

When a tone-mark is placed above the vowel "i", the dot over it should be omitted, e.g., "mì", "jǐng".

When "iu" or "ui" comes, the tone-mark should be placed above the terminal vowel, e.g., "liú", "guǐ".

4) Neutral tone

In standard Chinese pronunciation, there are a number of syllables that lose their original tones and are pronounced softly and shortly. This is known as the neutral tone which is identified by the absence of a tone mark, e.g., "xiè xie", "bú kèqi". (谢谢, xiè xie, thanks) (不客气, bú kèqi, you are welcome)

2, Speaking some daily sentences

1) 你好(nǐ hǎo)!   Hello!

2) 再见(zài jiàn)!  Goodbye!

3) 谢谢(xiè xie)!  Thanks!

4) 不客气(bú kèqqì)!   You are welcome!

5) 对不起(duì buqǐ)!     I am sorry!

6) 没关系(méi guānxi)! Does not mention it!

7) 认识你很高兴(rèn shí nǐ hěn gāoxìng)! I am pleased to meet you!

8) 我叫桑德兰(wǒ jiào sāng dé lán)。 My name is Sandra.

9) 我会说英语(wǒ huì shuō yīngyǔ)。 I can speak English.

10)  我是奥地利人(wǒ shì àodìlì rén)。   I am Austrian.


3, Speaking and listening are inseparable

You can listen to your own recordings carefully. Then, compare your pronunciation with the correct one to correct yours. If you have a Chinese teacher, it's even better. Therefore, when you study, the teacher will help you correct the sound. Furthermore, there are several points:

1) When you learn to speak a new language, your pronunciation is often influenced by your mother tongue. Some of the sounds are not pronounced because you have not heard them before. Therefore, you don't have to worry about the pronunciations all the time, because you can correct them later. Your pronunciation will improve along the learning process. Even when you attained the advanced level, there is always a process of correcting. So don't worry too much. Improving pronunciation is a step-by-step process.

2)  Oral Chinese practice is often accompanied by listening practice. So it would be great if the Chinese teacher could only speak Chinese in class. A native language environment can help you improve your listening and speaking skills faster. Do not use difficult materials when practicing listening. Listening to difficult materials is not helpful for listening, and may make you feel frustrated. And the words used in such materials, such as TV series, are different from the words used in daily life. Videos which suit your ability and are targeted at Chinese learning are highly recommended.

3) You can also listen to some simple Chinese songs, which is especially helpful for cultivating the sense of language.

4) You can find a professional Chinese teacher to help you.

part 9

How to Learn Chinese Characters

How to learn Chinese Characters

Chinese characters, which have a history of more than 3,000 years, are very ancient and are the only Ideographic Characters used in the world. Ideographic Character is a kind of writing system that uses symbolic symbols to record words or morphemes, not simply to express syllables.

The key to learning Chinese Characters is to understand the characters and the meaning of each symbol. If you master the rules of Ideographic Characters, Chinese characters are very easy to learn.

In addition, there are only 3,500 Chinese words in the daily life, as mentioned in "easy to learn Chinese." It is very flexible to create new words. So there is no need to create many new words for new things. Compared with English, it has to create new words for new things, which is why 10,000 ~ 20, 000 new English words are created every year.

When you learn Phonetic Characters, it is easy to start, and then it gets harder. On the contrary, when you learn Ideographic Characters, it is hard to start, and then it gets easier.

How to learn Chinese Characters? Let us start with some very simple examples:  

1 "木" = tree

2 "木" trees = "林" woods, one tree is a tree, two trees together, we have the woods.

3 "木" trees = "森" forest, three trees together, we create the forest.


1 "火" = fire

2 "火" = "炎" really hot, two fires together, we get really hot.

3 "火" = "焱" flames, three fires together, that's a lot of flames.

"林" woods + "火" fire = "焚" burning, set the fire underneath the two trees, it's burning.


1 "日" = sun, for us, the sun is the source of prosperity.

2 "日" sun = "昌" prosperous, two suns together, prosperous.

3 "日" sun = "晶" sparkles, three together, that's sparkles.

     "日" sun + "月" moon = "明" brightness, put the sun and the moon shining together, it's brightness.

     "日" sun + "月" moon = "明"  tomorrow, It also means tomorrow, after a day and a night.

     "日" sun + " _ " horizon = "旦" sunrise,  the sun is coming up above the horizon, it is sunrise.

1, Radicals of Chinese Characters,

Consequently, the first thing you need to know is what these basic symbols mean. They are radicals of Chinese Characters. That's very important. There are totally 267 radicals of which 48 are commonly used. For example:

氵, water related, 河 = rivers, 湖 = lakes,  海 = sea
钅, metal related, 针 = needle, 铁 = iron, 钢 = steel
疒, ill related, 病 = disease, 疼 = pain, 癌 = cancer
衤, clothes related, 衬 = sark, 衫 = shirt, 被 = quilt
足, foot related, 路 = road, 跑 = run, 距 = distance
犬, dog related, 吠 = bark, 哭 = cry, 状 = indict
羊, sheep related: 咩 = baa, 羚 = antelope, 群 = crowd
皿, utensil related: 盒 = box, 盆 = pot, 盂 = jar

All 267 radicals, sorted by strokes

Strokes 1: 丨亅丿乛一乙乚丶

Strokes 2:  八勹匕冫卜厂刀刂儿二匚阝丷几卩冂力冖凵人亻入十厶亠匸讠廴又

Strokes 3:  艹屮彳巛川辶寸大飞干工弓廾广己彐彑巾口马门宀女犭山彡尸饣士扌氵纟巳土囗兀夕小忄幺弋尢夂子

Strokes 4: 贝比灬长车歹斗厄方风父戈卝户火旡见斤耂毛木肀牛牜爿片攴攵气欠犬日氏礻手殳水瓦尣王韦文毋心牙爻曰月爫支止爪

Strokes 5: 白癶歺甘瓜禾钅立龙矛皿母目疒鸟皮生石矢示罒田玄穴疋业衤用玉

Strokes 6: 耒艸臣虫而耳缶艮虍臼米齐肉色舌覀页先行血羊聿至舟衣竹自羽糸糹

Strokes 7: 貝采镸車辰赤辵豆谷見角克里卤麦身豕辛言邑酉豸走足

Strokes 8: 青靑雨齿長非阜金釒隶門靣飠鱼隹

Strokes 9: 風革骨鬼韭面首韋香頁音

Strokes 10: 髟鬯鬥高鬲馬

Strokes 11: 黄鹵鹿麻麥鳥魚

Strokes 12: 鼎黑黽黍黹

Strokes 13: 鼓鼠

Strokes 14: 鼻齊

Strokes 15: 齒龍龠

2, Strokes of a Chinese Character

Stroke (bǐ hua) usually refers to the various shapes of Chinese Characters and uninterrupted points and lines, such as Rightward stroke (一), Downward stroke (丨), Falling leftwards (丿), Falling rightwards (乀), Dot (丶), Break (乛) and so on, it is the smallest unit of Chinese Characters constitute the font.

Chinese Characters have two levels of structure: one is the stroke, the other is the radicals. Radicals are also made up of strokes, so strokes are the smallest unit of Chinese Characters. They are of great significance to understanding and learning Chinese Characters correctly.

General rules for writing Chinese Characters:

1. Falling leftwards first, and then Falling rightward. E.g., 人 八 入

2, Rightward stroke first, and then Falling rightwards. E.g., 十 王 干

3, Top first, and then the bottom. E.g., 三 竟 音

4, Left first, and then right. E.g., 理 利 礼 明 湖

5, Outside first, and then inside. E.g., 问 同 司

6, Outside first, and then inside, seal last. E.g., 国 圆 园 圈

7, Middle first, and then both site. E.g., 小 水

3,   4 principles of creating Chinese Characters

The formation of character refers to the method to create the Chinese characters. Generally speaking, the methods of creating Chinese characters fall into four categories: Hieroglyphic (shape), self-explanatory (mean), Associative (knowing), and Pictophonetic (mean + pronunciation).

1) Hieroglyphic Characters(象形)

This creation method is closely related to the images of things. However, complex things and abstract concepts can't be described with images. Therefore, only a limited number of characters are created this way. Most of the characters created this way, such as sun, moon, mountain, water, serve as the building blocks of other more complex characters. The earliest versions of these characters are basically pictures of the sun, moon, mountain, and water. Then they gradually evolved into the present shape.

The melon is a pictograph. In the word "melon", the two left-falling stroke means the vine, the middle vertical hook represents the melon, and the right-falling stroke represents the leaf. The term "Cucurbitaceae" is the meaning of "melon" (瓜). In real life, there are many things resembling melon, such as a "melon cap" –a kind of hat; a watermelon boat – a kind of ship; "like cut the melon"—the fate of the melon is to be divided, which leads to the meaning. People use "divide" to mean partition or distribution. It also refers to a number of great powers united dividing the land of weak or underdeveloped countries.

2) Self-explanatory Characters(指事) 

The way to form a character using symbols to indicate the character's meaning is called "Self-explanatory Characters (指事)." There are two indications: one is purely symbolic, e.g., shorter horizontal over a longer means "上 (up)", and the opposite means "下 (down)"; the other type is to add a symbol to hieroglyphic characters, e.g., adding a "一" to the upper part of "木" means the end of a tree (末), to the lower part means the root of a tree (本). Here, the "一" is not numeric. For instance, a knife (刀) with an additional dot indicates where the blade is. The left and right dots in "人" indicate armpits. The dots here are all indication symbol.

3) Associative Characters(会意)

Characters formed with two or more independent characters to indicate a new meaning are called Associative Characters (会意). For instance, "人 (people)" (or "亻") leaning against "木 (tree)" means "休 (to rest)"; two footprints by water "水" (or "氵") means "涉 (to wade)"; the combination of "鸟 (bird)" and "口 (mouth, beak)" means "鸣 (chirp)"; "宀" (house) with "火 (fire)" inside means "灾 (disaster)"; "人" (or "亻") with a "戈" means "伐"—to chop; a man lying in bed in a house "宿" means "to live at".

4) Pictophmetic characters(形声) 

Characters created this way consist of meanings components and pronunciation components. Pictophmetic characters have lots of advantages, among which is the unification of form and meaning, such as "月+要=腰; 月+干=肝; 月+土=肚." Among the above characters, "要", "干" and "土" indicates the pronunciation of the characters; "月" indicates human or animal body parts and organs, it is a picture-radical. According to statistics, Pictophonetic Characters account for about 90% of Chinese characters. There are many Chinese characters with the same pronunciation, so it is necessary to indicate the meaning of the Chinese character by the meaning components.


5,  Practice

Now, you know the rules of Chinese Characters, and you will continue to recall these rules in future learning. In addition, the proper understanding of the origin of Chinese Characters can help you remember the characters and increase your interest in learning.

"好" good: A woman holds a child, and a new life is born. These two events, of course, are considered good.

"牢" prison: A cow lives in a barn, which implies a person is kept in a prison.

When practicing writing Chinese Characters, you can use some tools to help you understand the Strokes of Chinese Characters, which is very helpful for you to improve the writing ability of Chinese Characters.

At last, if you are interested in art, you can practice Chinese calligraphy, writing Chinese Characters is just likes drawing.

part 10

How to Learn Chinese Grammar

How to learn Chinese grammar

Chinese grammar is very simple. There are no class shifts, no plural Nouns, no gender of Nouns, etc. However, without some knowledge of grammar, it is difficult to improve your Chinese to a higher level.

1. The differences between Chinese grammar and English grammar.

1) English grammar emphasizes structure, while Chinese grammar emphasizes semantics.

2) As far as sentence structure is concerned, English is governed by the rule of law. The Chinese language is governed by people.

3) The relations between sentences are clearly indicated by relative adverbs, relative pronouns and conjunctions, etc. The Chinese language does not have such words. The relations between sentences is fully expressed through the semantics of the sentence.

4) Passive voice is quite common in English, while Chinese values active voice. English prefers passive sentences, especially in science and technology. Although there are Chinese words (“” “”) means the action is passive, but this kind of expression is far less common than in English. So in English, passive sentences are often translated into active sentences when translated into Chinese.

5) The most important information is often placed in front of the sentence in English grammar, while Chinese is the opposite. In the expression of logical thinking, English often writes the judgment or conclusion in front of the sentence and put the fact or the description behind, namely, the topic words are in front. Chinese often states the reasons first, then the results; the hypothesis first, then the inference; the fact first, then the conclusion. In other words, the most important information is put at the end of a sentence.

2 Characteristics of Chinese grammar

1)  Few morphological changes

The phenomenon of morphological change exists in Chinese but is rare. Some words have morphological changes, but such changes are not suitable for all occasions. For example:

i)  The verb in Chinese does not have class shifts. For example, in English, there are “I am a student” and “You are a student.” In Chinese, however, there is no “am” and “are”, only “” representing “am/is/are.”

ii) In Chinese grammar, verbs, pronouns do not change if placed in different positions of a sentence.

For example, there are "research", "researched", "researching", and "has been researching" in English grammar. In Chinese, no matter where the subject, the predicate, the object, or the modifier of the word "research" is in the sentence, there is no change in "研究."

2) Word order and empty words are important

Since morphological changes are very few in Chinese grammar, the word order and empty words are very important in Chinese grammar.

i) First of all, if the word order is different, then the meaning of the expression is different, for example, “不很好 not very good” and “很不好 very bad”.

ii) Second, the meaning is completely different if empty words are present. For example, “看书 look a book” and “看的书 the book one is reading.”

3)  Many quantifiers

Different things come with different quantifiers. For example:

  • 个 gè  一个 (苹果)  yí gè (píng guǒ) An apple
  • 把 bǎ  一把 (椅子) yì bǎ (yǐ zi) A chair
  • 套 tào  一套 (西装)  yí tào (xī zhuāng) A suit
  • 张 zhāng  一张 (机票) yì zhāng (jī piào) A ticket
  • 条 tiáo  一条 (毯子) yì tiáo (tǎn zi) A blanket
  • 位 wèi  一位 (乘客) yí wèi (chéng kè) A passenger
  • 本 běn  一本 (书) yì běn (shū) A book
  • 支 zhī  一支 (笔) yì zhī (bǐ) A pen
  • 根 gēn  一根 (黄瓜) yì gēn (huáng guā) A cucumber
  • 双 shuāng  一双 (鞋) yì shuāng (xié)  A pair of shoes

3, How to learn Chinese grammar?

Given the description above, you know that to learn Chinese grammar well, you must emphasize the study of word order, empty words, and quantifiers. There are some learning skills:

1) Learning Chinese grammar does not mean doing some grammar exercises or remembering many rules of grammar. You also should not pay much attention to long difficult sentences analysis, and text reading appreciation. Instead, you should use grammar in speaking and writing to improve your real communicative competence.

2) Sentence structure analysis is very important in learning Chinese grammar. It can not only deepen your understanding of grammar but also can effectively improve your reading comprehension and writing skills.

3) Basic grammar must be used skillfully because all the long and difficult sentences can be broken down into basic grammar.

4) You should carefully listen to the teacher's analysis and explanation in class, don't spend too much time studying Chinese grammar books. 

5) Create a wrong question bank, organize it from the beginning, and analyze mistakes made in practices, in the exam, and learn new things from past mistakes.

6) Chinese learning requires a lot of memorization. You should memorize 3~5 sentences every day, and review often and consolidate knowledge.

part 11

How to Test Chinese Proficiency

 Chinese language exam

Exams help you to review the knowledge and are also a proof of your Chinese proficiency. Now, there are three major Chinese level tests, held in China, USA and South Korean.


Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK), an international standardized test of Chinese language proficiency, assesses non-native Chinese speakers’ abilities in using the Chinese language in their daily, academic and professional lives. HSK consists of six levels, namely HSK (level I), HSK (level II), HSK (level III), HSK (level IV), HSK (level V), and HSK (level VI).

HSK Speaking Test (HSKK) assesses the test takers' oral Chinese abilities. HSKK consists of three levels, HSKK (Primary level), HSKK (Intermediate level) and HSKK (Advanced level). HSKK is conducted in the form of audio recording.

Youth Chinese Test (YCT), an international standardized test of Chinese language proficiency, assesses the primary and middle school students' abilities to use Chinese as a second language in their daily and academic lives. YCT is divided into writing and speaking tests, which are independent of each other. The writing test consists of four levels, namely, YCT (level I), YCT (level II), YCT (level III), and YCT (level IV). The speaking test consists of two levels, YCT Speaking (Primary Level) and YCT Speaking (Intermediate Level).

Business Chinese Test (BCT), an international standardized test of Chinese language proficiency, assesses non-native Chinese speakers' abilities to use the Chinese language in real business or common working environments. BCT is divided into writing and oral tests, which are independent of each other. The writing test consists of two levels, namely, BCT (A) and BCT (B). BCT (Oral iBT) are Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) and conducted via the Internet.


OPIc (Oral Proficiency Interview-computer), is a foreign language level oral test organized by the American Foreign Language Teaching Committee (ACTFL), which aims to examine the ability of foreign language learners to communicate effectively in a real-life context and to use language appropriately. It tests English, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Korean and other languages. LTI is an exclusive test license by ACTFL, each year, the number of LTI candidates is over 500,000.

Currently, the ACTFL test is used by academics, government agencies and enterprises from around the world and used in admission examination, student evaluation, project evaluation, professional certification, recruitment, and promotion qualification determination. In the United States, more than 20 states require teachers to use the spoken/written test scores as a basis for verbal proficiency. NASA, ebay, Paypal, at&t, Samsung, Hyundai, Ito Japan, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, the United States HSBC, Nord Anglia Education and More than 3,000 companies worldwide recognized the ACTFL test.

OPIc is an iBT-based adaptive test. The test questions are presented by a well-designed computer program. The test system makes appropriate adjustments according to the candidate's interest, experience, and language ability. It features interaction and affinity.

South Korean

TSC (Test of Spoken Chinese)

In order to carry out cultural exchange with China and communicate effectively using Chinese, the TEST OF SPOKEN CHINESE, the largest language institute in South Korea, is started under the leadership OF YMB. Today, most of South Korea's big companies are demanding that employees in China pass the TSC test.

part 12

How to Learn Chinese in China

learn Chinese in China

To learn Chinese in China is also a very good choice. If you devote all of your time to learning Chinese, your proficiency can improve greatly in 1 ~ 2 years. It allows you to learn and practice the Chinese language in the Chinese environment.

Then why do you learn Chinese in China? Some people want to learn the Chinese language, while other also want to get a diploma in university.

Only for the Chinese language

In the north of China, the Mandarin pronunciation in some cities is very standard, such as Beijing, Harbin, and Dalian. You can also choose some southern cities, such as Changsha, Hangzhou, and Shanghai to experience different Chinese folk customs. In addition, some local dialects are challenging to foreigners, and local people do not speak Mandarin, but they can understand Mandarin.

If you want to learn Chinese in China for a long time, you must enroll in college or university because only accredited universities have the authority to apply for a student visa. If you go to some training center, they can only help you apply for short-term travel visas lasting 3 months, this is very inconvenient for long-term studies.

As to how to choose a university, you need to consider the cost, teaching programs and so on.

And for a university diploma

Some foreign friends want to get a diploma in China's university. In this case, they have to learn the language during the first year and then take the university entrance examination. Therefore, the university requires HSK test results. The more famous the university is, the higher the requirement of HSK is. Generally speaking, it is required to be HSK4 level and above. You can read the admission requirements of the university.

Major courses for international students in Chinese universities cover literature, economics, medicine and public relations.

In addition, you can apply for the scholarship of the university. It is not difficult to apply for a scholarship, which is mainly based on the score of the entrance examination. About 60 percent of international students can get the scholarship.

At the same time, you can apply for the Chinese government scholarship, but this kind of scholarship is confined to some of the special projects or students from specific countries. You need to know the detailed information beforehand.

Chinese government scholarship programs


1. Bilateral Program

This includes full or partial scholarships in accordance with the educational exchange agreements or consensus between the Chinese government and governments of other countries, institutions, universities or international organizations. It supports undergraduate students, graduate students, general scholars and senior scholars.

Applicants shall apply to the dispatching authorities for overseas study of their home countries.

2. Chinese University Program

This is a full scholarship for designated Chinese universities and certain provincial education offices in specific provinces or autonomous regions to recruit outstanding international students for graduate studies in China. It only supports undergraduates, postgraduate students, and doctoral students.

Applicants shall apply to the designated Chinese universities undertaking this program.

3. Great Wall Program

This is a full scholarship for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to sponsor students and scholars in developing countries to study and research in China. It only supports general scholars and senior scholars.

Applicants shall apply to the National Commissions for UNESCO in their home countries.

4. EU Program

This is a full scholarship to encourage students from EU member countries to study and research in China in order to promote mutual understanding between China and EU members. It supports undergraduate students, graduate students, general scholars and senior scholars.

Applicants shall apply to the Office for Education and Culture, Mission of the P. R. China to the European Union.

5. AUN Program

This is a full scholarship for the ASEAN University Network (AUN) to sponsor students, teachers and scholars from ASEAN member nations to study in China and to enhance the academic exchange and mutual understanding between China and ASEAN members. It only supports graduates.

Applicants shall apply to AUN Secretariat.

6. PIF Program

This is a full scholarship to sponsor students from Pacific island countries to study in China. It supports undergraduates, graduates, general scholars and senior scholars.

Applicants shall apply to Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretariat.

7. WMO Program

This is a scholarship for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to sponsor international students to study and conduct research in meteorology, hydrology, and water resources supervision and management in China. It only supports undergraduates and graduates.

Applicants shall apply to WMO.

Benefit of learning Chinese in China

The benefit of coming to China to learn Chinese is to experience how to use the Chinese language in a real environment and also to learn Chinese culture.

To learn a language, if you don't learn the culture behind the language, you can't learn the language well, because language comes from culture and reflects culture. Therefore, if you are learning Chinese in China, you must make more Chinese friends, take part in activities organized by Chinese people, and travel in China extensively.

Furthermore, it is very safe in China. If you are walking on the street in the middle of the night, you need not worry that something bad may befall you. But, still, you might want to pay attention to local customs and avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and embarrassments.

Wish all of you can learn Chinese with ease and make friends happily in China!

part 13

Learn Chinese Online with a Professional Teacher: Mary

learn Chinese online with a professional teacher

Freely download this pdf article: How to learn Chinese