Just like many other people, when I started to study Chinese, I had to face a lot of difficulties. I asked myself things like: Will I ever be able to produce those sounds and tones correctly? Or: How would I be able to learn all of those characters? Of course studying is a lot of hard work and if you want to study a language you will never stop learning. But then I found my ways to have some fun while studying.
This is basically about the spoken language, because there is no other way but to study the characters a lot, if you want to be able to memorize them.
No.1 Listen to music
Do you like music? Then find some good Chinese songs from your favourite music genre and start listening. Maybe you can find the lyrics in Chinese and pinyin, sometimes they have translations too. It also helps a lot to sing along, because you can practice your pronunciation and in music, as it’s all about the melody, the tones aren’t that important. Also remember going to Karaoke, or as the Chinese call it, KTV. This is one of Chinese people’s most favourite past-times, where you can make friends and have a lot of fun.
No. 2 Watch movies or TV
I started getting interested in China after my first Jackie Chan movie and I have always liked to watch movies. Then I also found my love for Asian television drama. When you watch Chinese movies you can put on subtitles first so you know what’s going on. Chinese movies and TV usually have Chinese subtitles, too, so if you’re already good, try to read along. Whilst watching you can practice your listening comprehension and also learn about Chinese culture. As Chinese love to make their own history into movies, you can learn about the main events in a faster way than reading a book. And if you meet Chinese people you will have something fun to talk about.
No. 3 Learn tongue twisters
I know it can be a little hard and maybe people will laugh at you first, but it’s still fun. It will help you with your pronunciation and studying the tones, because Chinese tongue twisters are also mainly about the tones. If you listen to the song 中国话Zhōngguóhuà by Taiwanese girlgroup S.H.E. you can hear some famous tongue twisters. You can also teach Chinese people your country’s tongue twister and laugh at them. 😉 Here is a really simple one for the first try:
sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shí sì shì shí sì, sì shí shì sì shí.
Four is four, Ten is Ten, Fourteen is Fourteen, Forty is Forty.
No. 4 Learn how to say and read your favourite dishes
As food is an important thing here in China and there are so many different dishes, you will have to find out which food you like and how to order it. In the meantime you can also study a lot of useful vocabulary that has to do with food, such as different types of vegetables or meat. You can combine studying and enjoying a delicious meal. Every city or region has their own special dish. The city I’ve studied in is famous for 扬州炒饭 Yángzhōuchǎofàn, which you can get in Chinese restaurants all over the world, but it still tastes the best in Yangzhou. 😉
No. 5 Find a language partner
Of course the best way to learn a language is to speak it and with a native speaker it’s the most efficient. So if you are still in University you should find out if there is a program to find a language partner or you can try to make Chinese friends via the internet. You can do all the fun things you do with your other friends and improve your Chinese at the same time. The easiest way to learn is if you come to China, because you will quickly find friends whom you can practice Chinese with.
你好! hello, or Servus as we say in Bavaria! My name is Petra. I am 22 years old and excited to support the InternChina team in Chengdu for two months. I am studying International Culture and Business Studies in Passau, which is a very tiny but lovely town in the southeast of Germany.
Two years ago I knew very little about China. Only that it is very far away, has a famous great wall and a huge population! I gained a better knowledge of China when I began to take Chinese classes and this is why I’m sitting in the InternChina office right now in Chengdu.
Learning Chinese made me curious to come to China. I talked to Jenny, (the office manager in Chengdu) about doing an internship here. Everything was set up so quickly and professionally. Only one month after my Skype interview I was standing at Chengdu airport waiting for my luggage to arrive. Unfortunately it did not. Luckily my homestay family helped me out with everything! Of course this was also a good occasion (and a perfect excuse) to visit some of the incredibly giant shopping centers here to buy new things!
Back in Germany I live in a tiny village with only 18 inhabitants, whereas Chengdu is home to almost 14 million people! So it’s no wonder that I’ve already been lost twice here. But there were always friendly Chinese people who were able to help me out and point me in the right direction. So no need to worry if, like me, you are not used to big cities like Chengdu!
Thanks to my awesome homestay family and the InternChina family, I am starting to feel home after only two days. I am excited to meet all the other Chengdu interns for our Thursday Dinner at the Global Center. It is the world’s biggest building by square meters. Hopefully I will not get lost there again =).
China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With a whole bunch of job market problems and huge numbers of unemployed people in Europe/USA, China is often seen as a possibility for young people to get a job, learn something new, gain experiences which will make you more desirable as an employee in Europe and the Unites States.
Going to China is not enough
Chinese are a fast learning people and most of them studied English at school, so there is no real need of people who can speak English (apart from teachers perhaps). If you want to come to China and work here, it’s mandatory to speak and learn Chinese and have a good education. You are not going to be something special because you are white, or know how to speak English. It is the same in Europe: Let’s say you want to work in Germany! Then you have to be able to speak German or at least English. You see, just going to China is not enough.
Different types of language students
There are different groups of Chinese students in the Western world:
1) The first big group is University Students.
2) The second group is people learning at home with some random language program.
3) The third group is booking expensive language classes in a language institute.
4) And the fourth group is going to China to learn Chinese!
The thing about learning Chinese in Western countries is: You might get good teachers, but you will never have the opportunity to try your Chinese in real life.
Classrooms provide only an artificial learning environment, you can learn your basics there. But where to try them? You know how to ask for 2 apples? That’s great! But where do you go to check if a Chinese person would understand you?
The only place for learning proper Chinese is China!
Can you think of any better place to practice your Chinese than being in China, buying your own stuff on the streets, attending language classes, doing an Internship perhaps?
Chinese people are often thrilled when they see that you try to speak their language, which they know is difficult to learn. The problem with language classes at Western Universities is often that groups are too big. In a class with 30 people you can’t learn properly and a teacher doesn’t really have any chance to correct you mistakes.
In our language school in Qingdao e.g., you will never have more than 10 people in one class! Normally it’s 2-6, sometimes it’s even one-on-one, so you will profit a lot more from these classes than you would do at your home Uni or in a Western language school.
Some people like to study at home, you can still do that when you attend a language school in China, but learning together with other people who are having the same problems as you do and after class trying out what you just learned will give you a big motivational boost!
3 years ago – it was the first time for me in China after having finished my basic studies of Chinese language – I went to a really small restaurant. The owner’s daughter wanted to speak with me and my friend, I know I was quite afraid of not being able to understand her (having learned Chinese at Uni for 2 years in classes of at least 30 people), but she didn’t care about any mistakes we made! We were sitting together for more than one hour and it felt like I learned a hundred new words that evening. I haven’t forgotten one of them!
Now I do an Internship in China and I can speak Chinese with my colleagues every day, it’s the greatest opportunity for me to improve my Chinese again. I often think that it must be annoying for them to hear me speak my crude Chinese and saying things wrong so often, but they don’t seem to mind, since they have been studying Chinese for all their life and know how difficult it is!
This blog entry is dedicated to our partner language school in Qingdao that recently moved and which has now many advantages in comparison to their previous location.
First of all, the school is just 2 bus stations away from our InternChina office, in the near of ‘Book City’, and therefore extremely convenient to reach.
What are further advantages of the new building?
Around the school you have many small shops, where you can buy drinks/snacks during the lunch break, and also few coffee bars, offering nice coffee.
Moreover, the school is inside an office building on the 7th floor and completely new renovated. Beforehand you had plenty offices there, belonging to different companies.
Another plus is that apart from around 15 classrooms (different sizes), there is also a reception desk in the school, 2 recording rooms and 2 meeting rooms.
All in all the school looks much more professional now in the new location, although the old school was also not bad.
Inside the building you also have a hotel and a restaurant. There is one big central entrance for people working in one of those offices, people living in the hotel and us students learning Chinese there.
When arriving in advance, because of avoiding the peak of rush hour, you can chill on the very modest sofa on the first floor. 🙂
The whole staff of the school is really cool and kind, giving you the impression to be welcomed and showing interest in you and your Chinese language. They adopt the speed individually and flexible concerning making breaks, repeating special lessons and teaching things apart from the contents in the books.
We really trust them as our partner for we are cooperating with them since the foundation of InternChina, more than 6 years ago.
In the name of InternChina I can really say that we are satisfied with the school and the new place the school is located.
We are really glad to have this school as our partner and we hope that more students find the way here. It is really worth it and a great opportunity to improve one´s Chinese rapidly!
So guys, we hope to welcome you soon to our new school! 😉
I’ve started taking Mandarin classes every morning and have really enjoyed it. The first few days were difficult, especially getting used to the tones!! I have, however, seen alot of improvement and want to continue working on my Mandarin.
My teacher is a bubbly, eccentric 22 year-old girl named Liudi…she’s quite the teacher!
Yesterday myself and my two other classmates who’re also interns went out to lunch with all of the teachers and had a blast! See the attached photo