Well, we talked with some people we know who are learning Mandarin in China, and they shared some great tips:
1. Try a second tier city.
Living in a second tier city is becoming more popular with many students of Chinese.
From interviews we undertook with foreigners living in Chongqing, they said that there was more chance to practice speaking Chinese with locals when compared to living in a better known city. English is not widespread in Chongqing and, of course, the cost of living is much cheaper!
Living in second tier or smaller cities, you can really immerse yourself with the “real” Chinese culture and language. On the other hand, living in large cities such as Shanghai is like living in any other international city such as New York or Tokyo. You can see similar brands, restaurants and large shopping centres and so on.
2. Pick the right tutor—for you.
The majority of students agreed that one-on-one instruction is more effective especially if it’s a teacher you feel comfortable with.
To make the most of your experiences, remember, if your tutor is just nodding and agreeing with what you are saying, maybe something is wrong. It might be a sign that they are not really paying attention to your pronunciation!
A good tutor can add great value and it’s wise to, on a regular basis, ask questions such as: Did I say that correctly or did that sound not quite right? Is there another phrase related to this topic that I should know? Can I say this another way?
You will probably find if you have one or more tutors that one will advise/correct you better than the other; or that a particular tutor’s teaching style is more appropriate for you. Also, by having several teachers, you will get exposed to a wider variety of different accents and ways of saying things.
3. Get ahead by choosing the right resources and style.
Another aspect of our research showed that some people prefer to learn by books, whilst others are keener to use different learning Apps or resources on the Internet. Each individual will have different ways to achieve success with learning how to speak Chinese. For example, some bloggers found that playing games meant that they needed to learn certain Chinese words and phrases in order to help them get through the next stage.
As there are no single tools and/or resources to guarantee your success, often it’s almost a question of trial-and-error and see what best suits you personally.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced student, why not have a look at our research about Chinese learning and review a great list of resources which you can choose from.
In any event be sure to enjoy your learning!
Finally, before we go, many thanks to Ron for letting us share these tips with his readers.