Gabriel Uribe

Bullet points on learning Mandarin Chinese in 2022 πŸ“•


I've been learning Mandarin since 2017, and have picked up a few tips that I wish I had when I started.

Whether you're just starting out or are further along, I've distilled useful advice and reminders here.

Link to this headingMy bullet points on learning Mandarin Chinese:

  • Have a clear 'why' for learning Mandarin
    • You will experience demotivation/frustration, so being able to remind yourself of why you're doing it will make it easier to push through to the next level.
  • No matter what your level is, prioritize practice with native speakers as much as possible.
    • Immersion, community classes, 1-on-1 tutoring, language exchange meetups are all great options.
  • Don't stop grinding vocabulary acquisition until you're at new HSK 7-9, or know 6000+ words.
    • This is by far still the fastest way to improve your reading and listening comprehension outside of immersion. At these advanced levels, you'll have an easier time picking up new words from context even if you're not actively using vocabulary acquisition tools.
  • Tools I recommend for vocabulary acquisition:
    • Anki (free)
      • While this is a generalized flashcard tool, you can find all kinds of decks for Mandarin on the internet.
    • hackchinese (paid with free trial)
      • I've been using this for a few years and it's been a huge help. They have word lists for HSK, many popular Chinese dramas, graded readers and more with pronunications, simplied + traditional characters, example sentences, and spaced-memory repetition algorithms for learning built-in so that all you have to do is press 'Study' each day.
    • Bonus: If you're on macOS, I built a screensaver that'll help you pick up a few extra words here and there, regardless of your level.
  • Unless you have a short-term need, don't neglect learning how to read and write.
    • I personally regret not starting to spend time on reading and writing sooner. Reading is useful for:
      • Improving the speed you learn new words (as you begin to recognize patterns in characters for pronunciation and meaning)
      • Reading Chinese books, restaurant menus, news articles, texts etc.
      • Typing in Chinese (even if you use pinyin to type, character recognition ability lets you text faster)
    • Physically writing in Chinese can be fun, and has a nice change of pace compared to writing in English.
  • Strongly consider having a weekly 1-on-1 tutoring session with a native speaker.
    • This could even be in addition to other classes or immersion. I can't overstate the value of a great teacher that meets with you individually and holds you accountable. With the right teacher, this is actually good fun too.
  • Create immersion for yourself by consuming Chinese media (news, YouTube, music) for as long as you enjoy it each day.
    • However, unless this is part of your 'why', I would spend less time on this until you're intermediate, or in the new HSK 4-6 level range as the learning rate will be quite sub-optimal unless the material is graded to beginner levels, e.g. graded readers from Mandarin Companion

Last Updated: Wed Oct 05 2022

Have any other tips? Message me at any of my socials below.

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