The Best Way to Learn Chinese

A lot of people regard Mandarin Chinese as a very difficult language. How hard is it to learn Chinese? Actually, Chinese is not as hard as you think compared with French, German or Spanish! Specially for people who take Chinese language course in Beijing or learn Chinese in China. Why it isn’t as hard as you think? Lets together to have a look and find the best way to learn Chinese!


This is a very famous Chinese poem, indicate the poem think of his home. You might be frustrated when your read Chinese poem without Pinyin, thinking about it takes years of learning to understand Chinese character, but you can read this article after several hours in pinyin.

Pinyin is fully phonetic and can be learned very quickly, it allows you to get started with reading and writing Chinese the time involved in learning characters. You can think of pinyin as pinyin as the alphabet for Mandarin Chinese, it is how Chinese words are pronounced. Pinyin is important for learning mandarin Chinese. Most of Chinese syllables are formed by a combination of the initials, the finals and the tones.

When you take Chinese language course, you have to remember pinyin letters do not have the same pronunciation they do in your language, wǒmen (我们we) is not the English women!

Chinese Tones

Chinese characters have four basic tones shown by these tone-marks, the 1st tone, the 2nd tone, the 3nd tone and the 4th tone, which are placed only above the main vowels. The other one is neutral tone (toneless).

Chinese Tones

Lets have a look what’s the difference among these tones , for example Ma ( mā,má,mă,mà )

  1. mā (妈) 55 means “mother”, but in spoken language the Chinese will usually say “māma”
  2. má (麻) 35 means “hemp”, it is a kind of plant.
  3. mă (马) 214 means “horse”, animal.
  4. mà (骂) 51 means “to scold, to insult”, a verb.

So make sure you know the tones for every item of vocabulary you learn – if you don’t know the tones you don’t know the word.

For Pronunciation:

  • When you decide to study Chinese, find an experienced Chinese teacher with standard Chinese pronunciation if you study in a mandarin language school
  • Listen intently and repeatedly to the audio, and use a recorder tool to record yourself and compare. Be strict with yourself, you will get the right feeling and tone gradually!

Pinyin and tones are the most essential and fundamental knowledge for learning mandarin Chinese. The best way to learn mandarin is starting from pronunciation. A good pinyin pronunciation will enable you to express yourself clearly and help you achieve better listening comprehension.

How to improve Chinese pronunciation

Chinese characters

Chinese characters as basically the actual written form of Pinyin. How hard is it to learn Chinese characters? 300 of the most common characters will help you survive in Chinese daily life!
You can learn to write Chinese character by hand or just recognized characters when you take Chinese language course, at least you will need to learn to recognize characters. You can get by with pinyin input on computers and mobiles.
Start from simply Chinese characters, like 一 ( yī, one),二(èr, two),三(sān, three),十(shí, ten); Learn Chinese radicals; please check our blog the-most-common-chinese-radicals

We can mainly distinguish four types of Chinese characters:

  1. Pictograms (≈4%)
  2. Ideograms (≈1%)
  3. Logical Aggregates (≈13%)
  4. Radical-phonetic compounds Phonetic Complexes (≈82%)


Pictographs represent only about 4% of Chinese characters. Represent real life objects by drawings, like 日,目,木,山。

chinese characters

Ideograms of Chinese characters

Only less than 1% of Chinese characters are ideographs. Expressing abstract ideas through form一 ( yī, one),二(two),三(three), 上(shang above) 下(xia, below)

chinese character

Logical Aggregates

About 13% of Chinese characters fall into this category.Form a new meaning by combining the meanings of two or more characters 人,从,众; 木, 林, 森;


Radical-phonetic compounds

Pictophonetic compounds represent about 85% of Chinese characters, thus the most common type. Radical: element that indicates meaning   Phonetic: element that indicates the pronunciation.
Characters using same phonetic compounds qing 青(qing)


Methods for learning characters range from flashcards, repetitive writing and read suitable materials to your level. In any case, an understanding of the components that characters are made up of is essential.

Chinese grammar

Chinese grammar isn’t as difficult as English and Japanese, Chinese grammar isn’t complicated as western language

  • No gender: no masculine, feminine or neuter words
  • No plurals: quantifiers before the noun, or simply the context, will make clear whether we are talking in singular or in plural
  • No tenses: use of particles to express if an action takes place in the past, present or future. Again, the verb form never changes in function of the tense
  • No conjugations: each verb only has one form, and for that matter: no irregular verbs
  • No articles: no such thing as ‘the’ and ‘a’, no le/la, no der/die/das
  • No declinations of adjectives by number or gender: just like nouns, adjectives never change

No change of forms. The sound of a character will never change in function of the person, tense, number, gender of words.

Chinese vocabulary

Once you know some basic Chinese words, you will notice that many new words you learn are simply combinations of other basic words you have learned before.

员 (people):
服(fú)务(wù)员(yuán):  服务 (service )  +员 (people), means waiter/waitress
运(yùn)动(dòng)员(yuán):  运动(sports) +员 (people), means athletes
队(duì)员(yuán):      队 (team)  +员 (people), means team member

机 (machine)
录(lù) 音(yīn) 机(jī): 录(to record) +音(sound, voice) +机(machine),means recorder
洗(xǐ) 衣(yī) 机(jī): 洗(wash)   + 衣 (clothes)  +机 (machine), means washing machine
手(shǒu) 机(jī):                              手(hand)       +机 (machine), means cell phone

电 Electricity
电(diàn) 视 (shì):  电(eletricity) + 视( to view), means TV
电(diàn) 脑 (nǎo): 电(eletricity) + 脑(brain), means computer
电(diàn) 话 (huà): 电(eletricity) +话(words),  means Telephone

Use flashcards. You can make your own out of card, buy them, or use electronic flashcards on your computer, phone.

The best way to learn mandarin Chinese listening and speaking

  • Listening to Chinese songs.
    两只老虎 (liǎngzhīlǎohǔ-two tighers), 小兔子乖乖 (xiǎotùzǐguāiguāi),找朋友 (zhǎopéngyǒu)
  • Watching Chinese movies or TV shows.
    Such as, an episodes of  喜羊羊与灰太狼, 我们结婚吧,家有儿女, 我爱我家
  • Hanging out with your Chinese friends and asking them to speak Chinese with you.
  • Looking for every daily life opportunity to speak Chinese, buying, shopping, haircutting, ordering…

There is one old saying “Roma wasn’t built in a day ” in Chinese is  罗马不是一天建成的 ( Luómǎ bú shì yì tiān jiànchéngde)!Learning Chinese needs time!
Be patient, be determined! You will build your Chinese like the Great Wall one day! 加油(jiā yóu) ! Go ahead!