Happy New Year! If you’re like many of us, you’ve probably made some resolutions to improve yourself in 2024. Maybe you want to quit smoking, make a career change, or travel more. Or maybe you want to take on a challenge in self-development, like learning a new language or moving to a new country.
If that’s the case: why not learn Chinese? Chinese, the language of the most populous and powerful country in the world, the language of Confucius and Mao, the language of kung fu and dim sum. Chinese, the language that sounds like a symphony of tones and syllables, the language that looks like a collection of beautiful and intricate symbols, the language that can open up a whole new world of opportunities and experiences for you.
Learning Chinese is a fun and rewarding journey, and the language valuable skill, especially for international students who want to study in China. Even if you’re studying an English-taught program, speaking the local language will enhance your life there. You’ll be able to communicate with locals, partake in Chinese-language classes, and participate in local events and activities. Learning Chinese can help you with cultural immersion, making friends and connections, and gaining insights and perspectives that you wouldn’t get otherwise. It can also enhance your cognitive abilities, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving, as well as your creativity, empathy, and intercultural competence.
But don’t just take our word for it; look at the facts and figures:
- Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, with over 1.3 billion speakers.
- The British Council considers Chinese to be one of the most important languages for the UK’s future, as it is ranked as the second most influential language in the world, after English.
- China is one of the most popular destinations for international students, along with the US, Australia, the UK, and Canada.
- According to the World Economic Forum, Chinese is one of the most in-demand languages for employers, as it is associated with higher salaries, better job opportunities, and more business potential.
In this article, we share with you some tips, strategies, and resources to help you learn Chinese and make it your New Year’s resolution. 让我们开始吧.
Setting SMART Goals
One of the first steps to learning Chinese is to set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These are the criteria that can help you plan your learning process and track your progress. Let’s look at what each of these mean and examles of goals you can set.
Specific: make sure your goals are clear and well-defined.
Example: Instead of saying “I want to learn Chinese”, it might be better to say “I want to learn how to introduce myself in Chinese” or “I want to learn how to order food in Chinese”.
Measurable: set a goal that is quantifiable and verifiable.
Example: Instead of “I want to learn a lot of words”, add a measurement such as “I want to learn 100 new words every week” or “I want to learn 5000 words by the end of the year”.
Achievable: your goals should be realistic and attainable.
Example: Rather than “I want to become fluent in Chinese in a month”, try “I want to reach the HSK level 1 in a month” or “I want to be able to have a basic conversation in Chinese in a month”.
Relevant: your goals should be aligned with your needs and interests.
Example: Instead of saying “I want to learn Chinese for fun”, you should say “I want to learn Chinese because I want to study in China” or “I want to learn Chinese because I want to travel to China”.
Time-bound: your goals should have a deadline and a schedule.
Example: Instead of saying “I want to learn Chinese someday”, you will be more productive by saying “I want to learn Chinese by the end of this year” or “I want to learn Chinese for 30 minutes every day”.
By setting SMART goals, you can have a clear direction and a concrete plan for your Chinese learning journey. You can also monitor your performance and adjust your strategies accordingly. SMART goals can help you stay focused, motivated, and confident in achieving your desired outcomes.
Choosing the Right Method
The most effective way to learn Chinese is going to vary from person to person. Therefore, choose the best method that suits your learning style, motivations, preferences, and budget. There are many options for language learning these days, such as online courses, textbooks, apps, podcasts, and social media. Each method has its own pros and cons, so be sure to consider them carefully.
If you prefer to learn with a professional tutor, you can enroll in a Chinese language course either in China or online. Many schools in China offer classes to cater to specific types of people. For example, Bejing Language & Culture University (BLCU) offers a variety of 12-week courses taught in a group or 1-on-1, tailored for business professionals, children, HSK exam preparation, and more. If you prefer self-taught methods, such as through apps and books, check out some of the recommendations below
Our website has a plethora of useful information and resources about how to Study Chinese in China.
Language Programs in China
Apps are a fun and interactive way to learn new words, practice pronunciation, test your knowledge, and play language games. They can create a personalized learning experience according to your learning pace and preferences, and provide you with instant feedback and rewards. However, apps can be limited and superficial, and they may not teach you the underlying rules and logic of the Chinese language. You may also need to be careful about the quality and accuracy of the apps, as some of them may contain errors or outdated information.
Here are some Chinese learning apps to try:
- Skritter: an app that helps you learn how to write Chinese characters and remember them with spaced repetition
- HelloChinese: an app that helps you learn Chinese from scratch with interactive lessons and games
- Pleco: an app that helps you look up words, phrases, and idioms with a powerful dictionary and flashcard system
Podcasts are a great way to learn Chinese by listening to native speakers talk about various topics and situations. They can help you improve your listening comprehension, expand your vocabulary, and learn about the Chinese culture and society. Podcasts can also be entertaining and engaging, and you can listen to them anytime and anywhere, such as while commuting, working out, or relaxing. However, podcasts can be challenging and frustrating, and they may not explain the grammar and usage of the language. You may also need to find podcasts that match your level and interest, and listen to them repeatedly and actively.
- ChinesePod: a podcast that offers over 4,000 lessons for all levels and topics, with transcripts, notes, and quizzes
- Slow Chinese: a podcast that features stories and essays about China and Chinese culture, spoken slowly and clearly
- Mandarin HQ: a podcast that provides practical Chinese phrases, grammar tips, and cultural insights
Textbooks are a classic and reliable way to learn Chinese. They can provide you with a systematic and comprehensive coverage of the language, from grammar and vocabulary to culture and history. Textbooks can also help you prepare for the HSK exam, which is the official test of Chinese proficiency. However, some people might find that textbooks are not stimulating enough. They may also not reflect the current and authentic use of the language.We recommend supplementing them with other materials or tools to practice your listening and speaking skills.
China Admissions’ Resources
We offer many language learning tools on our YouTube channel and blog. Our YouTube videos provide a fun and useful way to pick up common Chinese words and phrases used by international students. We also share more ideas on programs and resources to help you learn Chinese. Subscribe to our channel and keep up-to-date with these playlists:
We regularly publish articles about learning Chinese on the China Admissions blog. Here are some articles to help you with your language skills:
- How do you say your major in Chinese?
- 10 Popular Chinese Idioms You Must Know
- 5 Most Interesting Chinese Characters: Part 1 (& Part 2)
- Sip and Savor: How to Order Bubble Tea in China?
- Happy Pride! How to Talk About LGBT in Chinese
- 10 Most Useful Chinese Phrases and Expressions
Finding Motivation & Accountability
Chinese is a challenging language to learn, one that requires consistent effort and dedication. You may face some obstacles or difficulties along the way, such as losing interest or confidence in your learning progress. That’s why it’s important to find ways to stay motivated and accountable.
Motivation is the drive that keeps you going and makes you want to learn Chinese. There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within yourself, such as your curiosity, passion, or enjoyment. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside factors, such as rewards, recognition, or pressure. Both types of motivation can be helpful, but intrinsic motivation is more powerful and lasting. To find your intrinsic motivation, you need to ask yourself why you want to learn Chinese and what you hope to achieve with it. It helps if you can identify aspects of the language and culture that interest and inspire you.
Accountability is the responsibility that makes you stick to your plan and achieve your goals. It can be derived from yourself or others. Self-accountability means that you monitor your own performance and hold yourself accountable for your actions and results. This can be done by setting deadlines, tracking your progress, reviewing your mistakes, and celebrating your achievements. You can also involve other people in your learning process and let them hold you accountable for your actions and results. For example, join a Chinese learning community, find a Chinese learning partner or mentor, or share your goals and outcomes with a friend or family member.
By finding motivation and accountability, you can keep yourself engaged, enthusiastic, and confident in your Chinese learning process.
Learning Chinese is one of the best resolutions you can make for the new year… but it helps to plan, execute, and monitor your journey to achieve your resolution. So give our tips a try; set SMART goals, choose the right method, and find motivation and accountability. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun along the way.
On the China Admissions platform, you can browse and apply to hundreds of online and offline courses in China, and get guidance and support from our friendly team.
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