Many people believe that learning Mandarin Chinese is a great way to improve their language skill for their work and life. There are a lot of different ways to learn Mandarin Chinese, you should find a way that works best for you.
A natural language-learning approach
I like this approach and believe in that it can lead to smoother and more efficient learning to a better return on the many hours of hard work that Chinese language mastery requires.
This approach is based on the assumption that spoken Chinese language underlines writing, and not vice versa. The natural language-learning approach can be summarized: "Hearing before speaking, speaking before reading, reading before writing."
Speech is a physical activity carried on, like other physical activities by muscles. The muscles most involved are those of the tongue, jaw, lips, and diaphragm, but there are many others. If we are to speak at all fluently, the work of these muscles must be governed by a set of habits. The more fluent we want to be, the stronger these habits must become. In one's native language, where fluency is greatest, these habits are almost unbreakable.
Following this approach, especially in the early stages of learning Chinese, you should do so much oral practice that you can say the sentences practiced almost in your sleep. While you are practicing, you should continually have in mind the meaning of what you are repeating.
The first important principle of this natural language-learning approach is to remember: "speaking before reading." Some people misunderstand this central emphasis of the approach by regarding it as a prohibition on the use of reading and writing during the first weeks or months of language study. But the natural language-learning approach implies no such prohibition. Writing, the text material can be highly useful. Indeed, without them the load on Chinese learners' memory might become intolerable after the first few hours of oral study. What the natural language-learning approach does emphasize is that you should come into contact with the spoken form before you see the written form, and that ability to decipher and reproduce the written forms should not be confused with the Chinese language mastery.
A second fundamental principle of the natural language-learning approach is expressed by placing "speaking" after "hearing", and "writing" after "reading"; in all that you do, you have a clear-cut model to follow. Language-learning, whether by infants or adults, is first of all a matter of imitation. Only as you, the learner progress further do you become able to form new expressions that are acceptable to the established speakers of the Chinese language; you form these new expressions only by analogy, based on the forms you have already learned through imitation. It is very challenge for you as a Chinese learner to progress from straight mimicry to the freedom in analogical creation as a native Chinese speaker.
A natural language-learning approach helps Chinese learners progress from straight imitation to free conversation or composition. Start from easy Chinese to prevent learners from trying to do too much too soon. As you grow more proficient on easy Chinese, the Chinese learning program increases the difficulty level little by little. This way helps you minimize frustration and keep you from making errors.
Because the Chinese learning program introduce new difficulties at a manageable rate, carefully sequenced material can be a great help to Chinese learners to become confident and achieve better learning results.
Study Chinese pronunciation seriously
You may often hear somebody say, “You are a foreigner, therefore you will always have a foreign accent.” This is often used to discourage language learners from studying pronunciation seriously. There is no reason why you can not speak the Chinese language with a perfect, natural accent. You will need at least some talent for imitating sounds. If you can imitate people in your own language, that is a very good sign. However, if you just do not have the talent, you can largely make up for it with persistence and a little technology.
For example, you can record your voice with your computer and compare it with the native Chinese speakers' pronunciation. This technique helps many Chinese learners see where their pronunciation is different from the original and lets them gradually make it more native-like. Perhaps you will not be indistinguishable from a native Chinese in the end, but you are likely to achieve clear, pleasant pronunciation that will give native Chinese speakers something to wonder about.
First, you will need to study Chinese phonetics, Pinyin. Find a resource which has recordings of all the sounds of the Chinese language, Pinyin. Then, discover which sounds are used in which words by listening to the Chinese language and by reading phonetic transcriptions.
Achieving a good Chinese pronunciation should be one of the first things that you learn in Chinese. You can live without advanced vocabulary. You can use simple Chinese words to say what you want to say. You can live without advanced grammar. You can use simple grammar structures instead. But there is no such thing as “simple pronunciation”. If you do not have good pronunciation, you have bad pronunciation. Even if you use correct Chinese grammar, Chinese speakers may not understand what you want to say.
Unfortunately, many Chinese learners ignore pronunciation. Nobody understands what they are saying. If you do not put effort into Chinese pronunciation, you will make mistakes, and mistakes can turn into bad habits. The longer you ignore pronunciation, the more bad habits you will form. So do not put it off, study Chinese pronunciation seriously in the beginning stage of your Chinese study.
Best ways to learn Chinese pronunciation and speaking
1. Learn Pinyin
To learn and master Chinese pronunciation, you must learn Pinyin. Pinyin is also needed to look up Chinese words in dictionaries and for typing in Chinese characters with a Computer.
2. Pay attention to the tones
Since there are limited syllables in Chinese, there are many homonyms, making attention to tones very important. Learning to write the Pinyin with correct tones at the same time as you learn the Chinese characters will improve your pronunciation and your listening comprehension.
3. Try to imitate after the teacher, even if the sounds seem to be difficult to pronounce
Speaking and hearing yourself speaking will help reinforce the text in your memory. Exaggerating the tones can help you remember them easier.
4. Find a language partner
This is why I promote family members and friends learning Chinese together. So you can get a Chinese-learning environment easily and easier to stay motivated to learn Chinese.
5. Listen to Chinese audio programs
There is a wide variety of multimedia options that you can use to expose your ears to native Chinese speaking. Use Kids Chinese Podcast Chinese lessons. Download as much audio lesson as you can from Kids Chinese Podcast web site or iTunes to your smart phones or MP3 players and start listening. Listen as many times as possible whenever you have a chance. For example, whenever you are in the car, or commuting, or doing other mechanical tasks.
6. Practice what you have learned
Whenever you have a chance, practice what you have learned. This is another good reason that I promote grandparents, parents and kids learn Chinese together. Grandparents, parents and kids are the best study pal. This approach motivates grandparents and parents to set a good role model on discipline and nurture kids a good study habit, in the same time, grandparents, parents and kids learn, practice speaking Chinese in a really fun and effective way.
Choose a good Chinese learning program to Start with
What are the characteristics of a "good Chinese program"? In my opinion, it is a program that:
1. Teaches you clear and accurate Chinese pronunciation. A Chinese learning program with audio lessons recorded by a native Chinese speaker along with the accompanying text would be a great choice.
2. Emphasize the basics. After all, it is easy to expand your vocabulary once you mastered the basics of Chinese. In the beginning, only essential vocabulary, and basic grammar are necessary. A Chinese learning program focus on daily conversational Chinese would be ideal for beginners.
3. Teaches you the essentials of Chinese grammar, and does not try to fill your head with grammatical fine points that you will practically never need. A Chinese program that teaches you practical Chinese will be a good fit for you.
4. Gives you exercises with which you can practice that vocabulary and grammar, and will include an answer key.
5. Presents you with a basic vocabulary, about 800 to 1500 Chinese words .
Start learning Mandarin Chinese today! You may take a look at Mandarin Chinese lessons with Kids Chinese Podcast recommended by Chinese teaching professionals and students.