How long does it take to learn Mandarin Chinese?

How Long Does it Take to Learn

Mandarin Chinese?

Chinese is a unique and useful language for westerners to learn, though many shy away from it due to its rumored difficulty. It is different from Germanic and romance languages because it does not use Latin script. Many westerners believe that it will be very challenging to learn the language because of this, but they are surprised to find out that it is actually not as hard as they think. On the positive side, Chinese has a similar sentence structure to English, and many of the characters make a lot of sense once you understand their origins.

Learning Chinese Full Time or Part Time

Whether you study Mandarin Chinese full time or part time, according to the US State Department it will take you 2,200 classroom hours to learn Mandarin. If you treat learning Chinese as your full-time job, learning for 40 hours each week, it would take 55 consecutive weeks with no breaks. That is over one full year of learning.
Part-time learners could spend double that, or more. Either way, if you really want to become fluent in Chinese, expect to spend at least a year dedicated to learning the language.
However, if your goal is to just be able to get around as a tourist, you may be able to do that after just 6 months of part-time study. This will allow you to do things like taking public transit, asking for directions, buying things in stores and restaurants and perhaps even having light conversations with locals.

Challenges of Learning Mandarin For Native English Speakers

The English language only has 26 characters. Mandarin has thousands of characters to learn. As previously mentioned, some of them do make sense when you understand where they come from or what they represent, but when you have thousands to recall, it is certainly a challenge.
The other major challenge of Mandarin is that each word has four possible tones that completely change the meaning of the word. For native English speakers who are used to tone conveying emotion instead of meaning, the tones can be indistinguishable for the first few months of learning.

Overcoming Challenges of Learning Mandarin

Overcoming the challenges of Mandarin depends on your method of learning. If learning on your own, you may have trouble getting enough listening or speaking practice. It may sound silly, but watching Chinese videos and repeating what you hear is a great way to get around that hardship.
Another great tool to help you with your Mandarin learning troubles is Pandanese. The program, which is based on SRS(spaced repetition system) to optimize learning, teaches you more than 6,000 important Chinese vocabulary terms and radicals. It’s a great companion program to another Chinese learning option like a classroom setting.
The best way to learn a language is full immersion, but that is not possible for everyone. Try to put yourself in situations where you will be surrounded by the language – even if that means reading the characters on the buildings in your local Chinatown district.
Learning Mandarin is a good idea. It is the most widely spoken language in the world with about one billion speakers. Whether you want to do business with a global superpower or you simply want to be able to communicate with people, learning Mandarin is a good way to become a global citizen.

This article was published by the Pandanese Team.

Pandanese is a SRS based learning system specifically made for Chinese Mandarin learning and much more. Visit Pandanese now!

A Beginner’s Guide to Chinese Pronunciation

Learning to speak any language can be a difficult task. In particular, learning to speak Chinese can be especially difficult for those who are not at all familiar with the language. For instance, despite having one of the most difficult languages to master, many Americans struggle to learn to speak Chinese. This is because the language is so different from their native tongue, English. That said, the following is a short beginner’s guide designed to help make Chinese pronunciation easier for those attempting to learn the language for the first time.

The Pinyin

No matter what language you are trying to learn, you have to begin at the beginning. Just as you had to learn the English alphabet to speak English, you must also learn the Chinese alphabet, or the pinyin, before you can begin speaking Chinese. Given that Chinese is not a phonetic language, the pinyin is a special system designed to help people learn to pronounce Mandarin words. Moreover, the special and pronunciation are drastically different from the English language, so you cannot use your knowledge of English as the basis for learning Chinese or Mandarin.

Learning the Tones

A tonal language above all, a large part of learning to speak Chinese involves learning how to use to proper tone. The following is a short overview of these tones:
  • Tone 1-Often represented with a straight horizontal line above a letter in pinyin, this tone is described as both high and level. When speaking this tone, your pitch will be slightly elevated. However, you will want to keep your voice even while speaking the entire syllable for proper execution.
  • Tone 2– Akin to the tone we use in English when asking a question, this tone causes you to slightly raise your pitch while speaking it. It is represented using a rising diagonal line above the pinyin letter.
  • Tone 3– This tone is very distinctive as it requires the voice to rise and fall while speaking. Represented by making a curved line above the letter in the pinyin, tonal dipping is a common phrase used to describe this tone.
  • Tone 4– This tone begins high but quickly drops to the bottom of the tonal range. For English speakers, this is most closely associated with the tone used to denote anger. This is typically represented by a diagonal line that appears to be dropping, above the pinyin letters.
  • Tone 5– The last tone, or neutral tone is not mapped on a tone chart as it does not have a defined pitch. This tone is described as quick and light, regardless of pitch. These typically have no tone mark with relation to being written with letters of the pinyin.

Pronouncing J, Q, X

English is so drastically different from Chinese that you actually have to learn new sounds to speak it.
  • Learning J– To pronounce this sound, you need to begin with your the tip of your tongue behind your lower front teeth. Now, if you make the English ‘J’ sound, this will sound like a Chinese ‘J’.
  • Learning X– Similar to learning the ‘J’ sound, this also requires you to put the tip of your tongue behind your front bottom teeth. You now want to make the English ‘sh’ sound and this will give you the sound of a Chinese ‘X’.
  • Learning Q– Just as with ‘J’ and ‘X’, you must also begin with your tongue behind your front bottom teeth. However, you want to add a ‘T’ sound before making the sound for ‘X’ and this will give you the sound for a Chinese ‘Q’.

Overall, if you are looking for the easiest way to learn Chinese, Pandanese is a web app that can do just that. No need to struggle with the various difficult methods, this tried and tested app has everything you need to get started learning Chinese today.


This article was published by the Pandanese Team.

Pandanese is a SRS based learning system specifically made for Chinese Mandarin learning and much more. Visit Pandanese now!

What are Radicals? Why are They Important?

Chinese languages use characters to represent words and phrases, and radicals are the special graphical parts of these characters. Radicals play an important role because they make learning Chinese languages, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, easier to learn. Here’s how:

It’s Easier to Break Down Word Meanings

Being able to understand the meaning of words is essential for knowing which characters to use when you’re writing. One of the best ways to do this is to break down individual characters with the help of radicals. When you understand radicals, it’s easier to break down the meanings of words. Since radicals are part of Chinese characters, you can tackle learning each part of the word at a time instead of trying to understand the meaning all at once. This simplifies the learning process and can even make pronouncing words more effective.

You’ll Be Able to Use a Chinese Dictionary

Chinese dictionaries typically require an understanding of radicals. Much of this due to the fact that radicals are used to search for and index characters. With an understanding of radicals, you’ll be able to identify the section of the dictionary linked to that radical, count its strokes and find the pages that have the characters that contain the radicals.

You’ll Be Able to Identify Characters Faster

When you study radicals, it’ll be easier to quickly recognize characters. That’s because radicals are grouped in a logical system organized by the number of strokes radicals have. That means you won’t have to jog your memory to understand the thousands of individual Chinese characters when you have a base understanding of radicals. This will make it easier and faster to master Chinese characters.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re learning Chinese for the first time or brushing up your skills, understanding radicals provides tons of benefits for learning the language more effectively. You can also take advantage of helpful resources, such as the ones provided by Pandanese, to help you along the way. By taking the time to understand radicals, you can enhance your ability to learn Chinese and accelerate the process.

This article was published by the Pandanese Team.

Pandanese is a SRS based learning system specifically made for Chinese Mandarin learning and much more. Visit Pandanese now!