3 Ultimate Tips to Help You Tackle Learning Chinese
Written by Juliette Pitt
Are you looking for a new direction to learn Chinese and not sure how to go about it? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In many ways, learning Chinese at times can be similar to being lost in a forest as there are many different directions and areas you can go down. Here are 3 top tips that can help you navigate your way and help choose what’s best for you.
#Tip 1: Set a goal and keep your priorities straight
Setting a goal is vital! Goals have multiple purposes and are a perfect way to help you stay motivated! I believe the HSK (level 1 to 6) Exams are the best way in keeping your goals in focus. As someone who has gone through the HSK process from the lower to the upper levels, the exams can definitely help you set an achievable target.
Apart from HSK there are other exams that are equally as great! There is the HSKK Speaking Test Exams that consists of three levels (from beginner to advanced). These sets of exams are perfect for students that only want to focus on improving their communication skills in Chinese.
There is also the Youth Chinese Tests that is divided into writing (Level I to IV) and speaking tests (Beginner & Intermediate), independent of each other. These tests are primarily aimed for primary and middle school students and are a great way for younger student to get started!
Lastly, there is also the Business Chinese Test (BCT) and the Medical Chinese Test (MCT). Both of these are more specialized and are aimed towards Chinese learners who want to, or currently, work in the business or medical field.
The BCT test is particularly handy! It tests the speakers’ ability to use Chinese in a real business or working environment. Similar to the YCT, the BCT is divided into writing (Beginner & Advanced-Intermediate) and oral (at one level), independent of each other. In my view, the BCT test is better suited for perhaps more advanced learners who aim to use Chinese in their professional working career. Whilst these tests might sound overwhelming it is a great way to narrow down material and maintain a focus whilst studying Chinese.
Whether you’re just learning the content of the exam and do not plan on taking the test, by reviewing the material on a daily or weekly basis, this can really help boost your learning and confidence. Alternatively, you may find that daily or weekly goals are equally helpful where, for example, you could complete two or three hours of Chinese each week.
Alternatively, you could choose a certain topic or area that you find interesting and useful for a certain grammar point, or how to introduce yourself in Chinese – it’s up to you! But remember to make the most of your time and learn the material that is most handy to you! Also don’t forget to make your goals realistic! Goals are similar to signposts and are guaranteed to help you navigate your way out of the forest!
#Tip 2: Break the learning down
By this I mean understand your strengths and weaknesses. Personally, prior to sitting the HSKK exam I found that my spoken Chinese was quite weak. However, by breaking down the four components of the language, that is spelling, listening, reading and writing, I was able to quickly identify my weaknesses and work on improving each skill. For example, to improve my spoken language I devoted a lot of time to chatting with native Chinese friends and found that a lot had to do with confidence!
By forcing myself to speak with friends and more with my teacher, this helped me build confidence and I found myself less nervous of making a mistake. But don’t worry making mistakes is how you learn! By knowing this, it can help you devote more time and effort towards brushing up your weaker skills. It also helps you maintain more of focus and can help you work towards setting a target.
#Tip 3: Stay motivated
It is easy to be sometimes discouraged when learning Chinese especially if you are not sure which area to study or work towards! But don’t panic! As someone who has been in that ‘slump’ before, the best piece of advice is to write down your top three goals for learning the language. Maybe it is to take a certain HSK or BCT test by the end of the year or even just to be able to watch a Chinese movie only with Chinese subtitles. Whatever it maybe, it will help you regain focus.
It also might be useful for you to reach out to your past teacher or talk with your current tutor. As they probably understand your Chinese level the best, they can advise what study plan to embark on.
These are my 3 top tips, which I hope you may find useful in some way. If you have any more tips, please feel free to comment below. We would love to hear from you! Remember to keep studying and working hard! 好好学习, 天天向上 (tiāntiān xiàngshàng) Study well and make progress every day!
Before you go, for more tips on studying Chinese check out our article on – 5 Top Tips on for Taking Online Classes