Did you know that Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world? Though English has been the dominant global language for years, Chinese is the most popular language. It is used by more than 1.4 billion people in China, and many more millions live as expatriates worldwide.
As China is the second-largest economy in the world (after the U.S.), with an average growth rate of 10% per year, it is one of the major trading partners of the U.S. and other countries. There are already many American companies that have been doing business in China with long-term investments. This offers many opportunities for students, employees, and companies worldwide who want to expand their business with this powerful nation.
Learning Chinese will bring advantages to your future career or broaden your knowledge. But Chinese is one of the most challenging languages. How to start your Chinese learning journey? Do I need to sign up for classes, or can I learn Chinese online? How to find the best way to learn Chinese online? This article can give you the answers to these questions. Check it out now!
1. Determine your learning goals
To study Chinese effectively, first, you need to ask yourself: What do you learn Chinese for? Never start without a clear definition of your goals. It will make you confused between different learning orientations and methods, causing boredom and loss of time.
2. Find a curriculum
Nowadays, there are countless books to learn Chinese. However, we recommend these top 4 Chinese resources to learn Chinese online:
- Hanyu Jiaocheng Curriculum:
Hanyu Jiaocheng Curriculum is probably the most famous series with six books in ascending order. It may take a lot of time to archive all six books, but if your goal is to listen, read and write Chinese correctly, finishing the first three books is OK. Then you can improve yourself by actively using Chinese in daily life. This is also the standard curriculum for learners all over the world.
- HSK Curriculum:
HSK Curriculum is an academic and in-depth curriculum. You will need an HSK certificate to study abroad or to apply for a job at Chinese-speaking companies.
- Conversational Chinese 301:
Conversational Chinese 301 is for those who don’t have much time. Including the most common sentences, this book helps you listen and speak Chinese as quickly as possible.
- Boya (Beginner + Elementary) Chinese Curriculum:
This book summarizes a lot of knowledge and focuses on grammar with many exercises for learners to practice.
3. Learn Chinese speaking rules
Without a teacher, tutor, or discussion partner, speaking abilities might be challenging to improve. You can read aloud or repeat what you hear on a recording. However, without any feedback, it will be difficult to fine-tune your pronunciation patterns. In this case, you can practice with Glossika – the best resource to learn Chinese speaking skills
4. Learn the Chinese writing system
After learning phonetics, you need to have a firm base of the writing system. There are eight basic strokes and eight main rules that learners should follow to write basic Chinese correctly.
If you are new to learning Chinese, you may be afraid of writing Chinese characters. Don’t worry, the following rules will be your best source to learn Chinese:
Chinese’s basic strokes:
- Horizontal stroke: horizontal line, drag from left to right.
- Straight stroke: vertical stroke, drag from top to bottom.
- Dotted stroke: a dot from top to bottom.
- Upturned stroke: curved line, going up from left to right.
- Comma: curved stroke, drag down from right to left.
- Marking stroke: straight line, pulled down from left to right.
- Folded stroke: there is a fold in the middle of the stroke.
- Hook stroke: the stroke that hooks up at the end of the other strokes.
Chinese’s eight writing rules:
- Draw horizontally first, then vertically.
- Draw the line down in order: to the left and then to the right.
- Draw characters downward.
- Write from left to right.
- Finish the external strokes before interior strokes.
- Always close the frame after filling it.
- If it comes to asymmetrical character, draw the lines in the middle first
- The Chinese character is written in an imaginary square. That’s why you need a cross-section notebook to write as neatly as possible.
Using Chinese depends a lot on how you write them, so keeping these rules in mind is achieving one of the best ways to learn Chinese online!
5. Practice writing every day with a cross-section notebook and soft lead pencil
Chinese is not the same as English due to the hieroglyphic alphabet. A cross-section notebook will help you align your strokes and practice writing correctly. Using soft nib pens (pencils, fountain pens, ink pens without bold nibs) will help the strokes be more delicate and more elegant. Start with a pencil, and improve your handwriting with a fountain pen. Having your own, well-decorated notebook and pens is a way to show determination to conquer Chinese! You can also learn how to practice grammar correctly by writing lots of examples using grammatical structures and new words. You can set yourself a goal of writing each new word the first time to 5 lines. In the next few days, just rewrite 1 line.
6. Learn new words and memorize key phrases with Flashcards
Using flashcards is a highly effective form of vocabulary learning. You can write new words on one side of small-piece papers, and write the meaning with examples on the other side. This way, you can review the previous lessons systematically and understand them easier! Learning Chinese at home has never been easier if you are determined enough!
7. Watch movies, listen to Chinese music
Many Chinese learners choose to improve this language by exploring their rich, long-life culture. You can select a movie or music whose content is close to real life and has simple speech. Just let yourself into the movie, the character, imitate the actor’s sentences, word pronunciation, and tone. This way can make your pronunciation more like a native speaker.
8. Take advantage of your free time to study
We understand that most working people will not have time to attend classes or study Chinese every day. So, instead of long and tiring lessons, let’s take advantage of all the free time to learn this language. Speaking of which, you may be confused about what kind of free time? Like skipping nap time and spending that time learning? Or time to drink coffee and chat with friends? Or skip the whole Sunday with family and friends to study Chinese? The answer is “No”, we can use our free time to learn in a smart way! Like, turn on the news or some Chinese music or radio as soon as you wake up. Or try reading some Chinese book, magazine or newspaper – the best source to learn Chinese. This helps you get used to the language in a very natural way.
At first, you may not understand Chinese in a day or two, but don’t give up! When you keep sticking to it for a while, the language naturally enters your brain, you can hear the intonation and gradually get used to Chinese. The best way to learn Chinese online is to make the most out of social networks. You can also discover famous Chinese social networking forums, read more poetry or short texts on Chinese learning groups. A very effective way to learn more vocabulary!
9. Find Chinese friends to talk to
Another effective way to learn English online is to find a friend who is also passionate about Chinese on social networks. Or a foreign friend who can help you study and practice Chinese at the same time. You can say whatever word you know with a friend, and be aware of where you’re lacking. They can also point out your mistakes so that you’ll not repeat them.
However, building a network in real life can sometimes be challenging. In this case, you should register a Wechat account. Connect with some Chinese friends. With a community of more than 1 billion users, this is the best source to learn Chinese naturally.
10. Take (at least) 1 Chinese online course to know how to self-study
We do not recommend you to buy video courses – you can’t ask or interact with the teachers. Instead of that, you can register for an online Chinese course, like one student – 1 teacher learn directly or learn in a group. Learners of all levels of proficiency can benefit from this way of learning. You can also practice speaking skills by making conversations and get direct feedback during the lesson.
But, even the best online Chinese course should be supplemented by self-study. Spending time with a teacher helps you grow faster, you’ll still need to study on your own to consolidate what you’ve learned and expanded your knowledge base, especially when it comes to vocabulary.
Using self-study platforms is one of the best ways to learn Chinese online. Try Pandanese – a new online Chinese learning platform that helps users master Mandarin mnemonics in the spaced repetition learning method. With unlimited flashcards with Mandarin characters, radicals, and vocabulary, Pandanese helps users learn Chinese online easier than ever!
What is your best way to learn Chinese online?
Surely after all the pro tips, you may find learning Chinese easier and much more interesting. So why not give it a try? If you did try one of those tips, let us know what you think is the best way to learn Chinese online! Find out more pro tips and helpful Chinese resources on Pandanese.