Learn Chinese in Singapore :: yago.sg

Learn Chinese - some tricks

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Having been in the process of learning Chinese for over 5 years now, I thought I'd share some things you may consider doing, depending on your learning style. 


背书 (bèishū - to recite a lesson from memory)
This method can be tortuous at times and some would consider it rote learning. Basically you take a text as is used during class and go beyond understanding it, to being able to memorize the entire text without having to look at it. While this is surely not the only way you should learn a language, I have found that it greatly increases memory and fluency and it allows you to get the basic grammatical patterns really into your head. If you learn Chinese this way, you are an applied learner. Rather than understanding in theory how to ride the bicycle, you get on to it with the full risk of falling, and learn to operate it. Obviously, if you find text too boring, you can start with memorizing some popular songs, which will help you greatly during the next karaoke.

Recognizing characters
Most textbooks will start in a format with hanyu pinyin above or below characters. If you learn Chinese with the goal to also read and write Chinese characters, remember that hanyu pinyin is only a crutch to lean on as long as you have to. Chinese people have a hard time reading text in hanyu pinyin, they are simply not used to it. So as soon as you can, cover the hanyu pinyin and see how much you can still read. Eventually the hanyu pinyin will disappear from your textbook, so you better get used to it.

Writing Chinese characters
The moment I decided to learn Chinese in Singapore, I had decided that reading and writing should be part of my learning experience. If you decided the same, try and write as much as possible. The beginning is most difficult. After a while you'll feel that new characters aren't that new anymore; they are combinations of the same elements. If you make exercises, the easy way out is to write in hanyu pinyin. If you really want to learn how to write characters, resist this urge and start writing!

Install Chinese script on your PC
Typing Chinese characters is a fun way to learn Chinese. If you are in Singapore, or China, you'll undoubtedly get to know native speakers, and you can communicate with them in by typing in Chinese characters, be it in e-mail, through instant messenger or on Facebook. As it's easier than writing, you can develop speed much faster - and you have an incentive to learn new characters once you receive a reply. So install your Chinese language module as soon as you can!

Watch Chinese dramas
Personally I am not a fan of this, because I think it is a rather passive method and I have found that you only expand your comprehension when actively producing the language, but if you feel it's a good way to learn Chinese, Singapore's Channel 8 and Channel U have lots of drama's on offer, some of them with subtitles, some of them without.

Chinese courses
See the current Chinese courses in Singapore here.

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