How to Improve Speaking Chinese?
Being able to speak Chinese fluently is the main learning objective of many students. Learning Chinese isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible to speak Chinese fluently. Westerners and other learners of the Chinese language often ask our teachers how to improve their spoken Chinese. What is the best method of learning Chinese? A good practice is to just force yourself to translate everything you are currently thinking into Chinese. And make sure to keep adding words to your vocabulary list. The best way to do this is by talking Chinese. So find a language exchange partner. Here are some tips how to improve your spoken Chinese!
- Pronunciation and Tones Are Important Than You Think!
– Pronunciation is important. Nomatter which level you are, beginner, intermediate or advanced level, pay close attention to pronunciation and tones during your Chinese language course. Learning to pronounce Chinese properly is your own responsibility. Make sure you have the correct learning attitude and that you are eager to learn how to pronounce a word correctly. Even students with an advanced Chinese level who master difficult grammatical structures sometimes struggle to communicate with local Chinese people. Pure because they don’t know how to pronounce the words. – Tones are important. Different tones have different meanings in Chinese language. For example laojia ( láojià 劳驾 means excuse me; lǎojiā 老家 means hometown) & qingwen ( qǐngwèn 请问 means excuse me, may I ask…; qīngwěn 请吻 means please kiss). Sometimes native speakers reduce tones and speak quickly, but that doesn’t mean that you can do the same and get away with it. Especially for beginners.
– Don’t select a random teacher when you start to learn Chinese. Find a strict Chinese teacher with standard Chinese pronunciation. And be strict with yourself when learning Chinese.
Pronunciation and tones require extra attention and high-quality practice. Every student struggles with pinyin and tones, you are not alone!
- Correcting Yourself by Listening To Your Own Recording!
When you speak Chinese you’re not aware of your own pronunciation, tone and voice. Recording yourself and listening it back can help you to become aware of your own mistakes. You can also find a Chinese recording and try to record your own version. Comparing the two files will reveal your strength and weaknesses. This way you can find out on which aspect of the Chinese language you have to focus.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes!
A good way to learn the Chinese language is by putting yourself in Chinese environments, and constantly taking risks by trying out new words and expressions. You will often make mistakes, and you might feel awkward or embarrassed. But this is absolutely an essential part in the learning process. How many times do babies fall before they can stand? The same applies to learning Chinese. When one makes a mistake it is clear that one is pushing their own limits. Only through persistence and dedication one can surpass those limits and increase their fluency in the Chinese language.
- Spend Time with Chinese People (Not Westerners)!
Westerners and other learners of the Chinese language often confess to spend most of their time in China with other expatriates. This is a problem. Chinese can only be learned by engaging in real and in-depth conversations with Chinese people everyday and by immersing oneself in a Chinese environment. Learning to speak Chinese well takes effort everyday and requires one to make Chinese friends and spend time with them regularly.
- Always Be Speaking Chinese!
When you learn some new words furing your Chinese language class, go out into the world and practice using them. When a Chinese person uses a word one doesn’t understand, it’s important to ask what it means, and then remember it. Only by constantly putting newly learned Chinese into practice it can be remembered and mastered.
Even Westerners outside of China can immerse themselves in a Chinese environment by seeking out overseas Chinese communities and surrounding themselves with Chinese video and audio material. Learn Chinese in Beijing, immersing yourself into a Chinese environment will have a huge impact on your accent and general fluency.
- Find a Language Exchange Partner As Soon As You Can!
If you can find someone to help you with your Chinese, who is also interested in learning your language, you can have a fruitful exchange. You can collect questions and ask them when you meet. It’s safe and it’s all right to ask as much as you want and practice your oral Chinese. With a language exchange partner, you can ask until you fully understand even the most difficult concepts.
In the end, learning any language requires a definite commitment on one’s time. Especially Chinese due to its characters, tones, and other differences from Latin based languages. But on the day that you speak fluent Chinese, a whole new world will open up to you!