I found something interesting. When people search online about Mandarin Chinese learning, ” the best way to learn Chinese” ranks very high.
In this post, I try to answer this question based on my own knowledge. I am sure every one has his own answer.
So what is the best way to learn Mandarin Chinese?
To be honest, it is really up to the individuals. To some people, watching movies or videos helps a lot. However, some people might find reading works best.
Before we find a general answer, we have to know Chinese, the language, a little bit better.
If you read my post: Why Mandarin-Chinese Is Easy to Learn, you might know, Chinese grammar is really easy, very straight forward.
Chinese character hand writing is not that important these days because of the popularity of typing on screen, which makes learning Chinese much easier.
However, you do need know how to read Chinese characters. In my opinion, the best way to learn Mandarin Chinese is: Read aloud.
You have to read enough to recognize these characters, master the meaning of characters in context, at the same time you practice your pronunciation.
Reading aloud also helps your listening a lot.
For the pronunciation and typing purpose, you also have to know Pinyin.
The good news is, when it comes to typing, you don’t need know Pinyin well. The smart typing software will hep you.
For example, when I type Pinyin: 知道 (zhi1 dao4), I just type “zhid”, then software will come up several choices for me. 知道 is the number one choice because of the use frequency.
When it comes to reading characters, I suggest you to read along with the audio files to imitate the pronunciation of the native speaker.
For the best result, I suggest you to read meaningful reading materials like stories, news or conversations rather than just the character list, so you will understand the meaning of each character better.
Don’t forget, many Chinese characters have different meanings depending on the context.
If you are a parent, reading stores in Chinese helps the kid a lot. When the kid is little, just read stories or sing the Chinese songs to make it more fun.
When the child is around 6 years old, try to have him read aloud short stories or song lyrics in Chinese to help him recognize and memorize characters.
If you are a non-Chinese speaker, then have your kid read after the audio file to help his pronunciation. At the same time, find a lot of interesting reading materials for him.
Reading materials combined with audio files work best. If not, at least there is pinyin on the page to help.
The story page with pinyin mixed with characters might be a good choice for adults but not necessary a good idea for a kid because the kid might try to read pinyin instead of characters.
Try to find many reading materials to read, read and read. In case some parents need it, you can find more Chinese story books in the resource page.
If you can find Chinese native speakers, then try to practice, practice and practice your newly gained Chinese skill.
If you can’t find native speakers to practice, it is not a big deal. Just try to find every opportunity you could find.
For example, once you know someone you met at the bookstore is a Chinese speaker, try to switch to Chinese to practice. Or ask questions in Chinese when you order a meal at a Chinese restaurant.
However, reading is the foundation. If you don’t read enough, you might have perfect pronunciation and you might have no problem with some basic daily communication, however you will have a slim chance to be fully bilingual.
There is a Chinese saying: 师傅领进门 (shi1 fu4 ling4 jin4 men2)，修行靠个人 (xiu1 xing4 kao4 ge4 ren2). It means: Even you got a teacher, you still have to work on you own. Nothing can take the place of your own hard work.
With the guide from a good teacher, yes, there is another Chinese saying: 名师出高徒 (ming2 shi1 chu1 gao1 tu2), it means: a well known teacher brings up a great student.
I can’t say I am a 名师, obviously, I am not. However, I wish I give you some ideas to help you decide what is the best way to learn Mandarin Chinese.