When you are a beginner language learner, it is hard to know where to start. A lot of beginner students have a hard time pass beyond understanding basic greetings, pinyin, and counting numbers. It is easy to feel stuck.
We spend a lot of time at our school talking about how to break the traditional method of teaching and provide students with a quick introduction to master the language.
Here are some common mistakes:
1. Not practicing speaking fast enough
Duolingo is quite popular right now. A lot of students ask our teachers if they can use it to learn Chinese. I think it is a fantastic way to improve vocabulary with it, but honestly, its Mandarin learning is still a bit lacking compared to the latin languages they offer. One thing it is missing is the practicing conversation component. That's why our first few lessons are focused on speaking and speaking fast. To gain confidence in speaking is quite important in the beginner stage. Our tips for speaking fast? Learn with a purpose. Master words and sentences you would use in your next conversation.
2. Not learning the cultural differences
Language is very highly related to culture. Let's be honest, the eastern culture is very different from the western culture. That's why a lot of students say that learning Chinese is so much more difficult than learning French, Spanish, Italian etc... One thing comes to mind is on the difference in counting numbers. In English we count to thousand, then ten thousand. In Chinese, ten thousand is its own new unit. This changes how we do math by a lot! I always encourage students to learn as much as the culture as possible.
3. Not learn Chinese characters
Chinese language is built on individual characters. Each character has specific meanings. The literal meanings of each characters are important. For example, sad (难过 Nánguò) means "hard to pass (time)" Neat, isn't it? Learning and understanding the concept of the character is very important for beginner students. Even if you don't want to be able to write and recognize them first, you should still match the characters to the pinyin and understand they exist!
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Experienced Mandarin Teacher for 13 years.