Learning techniques for Mandarin Chinese

July 19, 2010

你好 !

This post is about my attempt to find efficient learning techniques for Mandarin Chinese that works for me. Like each time, I write down either an idea, though or problem. Today it is a problem I will expose.

I have started learning Mandarin Chinese since January 2010. I plan to go to Taiwan in July 2010, so in six months. Between those two dates, I must learn Mandarin Chinese so that I know enough words to have a basic conversation (hi, how are you ? What have you been up to recently ? etc. with the appropriate answer for each of those questions.). **My goal is to be able to hold a very basic conversation in chinese.**

What do I know about Mandarin Chinese today ?

I know nothing except that Mandarin Chinese is hard, the writing system has no structure i.e no alphabet, a chinese character can have "countless" meanings to cite only a few problems, the tones are hard to recognised, etc... I also know that learning Mandarin Chinese is a commitment, a lot of work, and learning it with no method is even more work. So I better have a learning method that works; an efficient learning method.

What are the requirement for an efficient learning method ?

First things first, it must help me get to my goal in a efficient way since my time and energy are limited resources. Secondly, it must be a techniques I can use to learn the other HSK levels.

Those two requirements raise two important questions which have to be answered. The first one is; **what do I need to know exactly ? The second one is how to use efficiently the 3 hours a day to get to the level required ?**

What do I need to know exactly ?

It will be pointless to study something that is not at the exam. This is my statement, I can not afford to spend time learning an non required knowledge. Since I am refereing to the HSK.Let's see what the HSK Level 1 contains. The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) is the Chinese pro-efficiency test for the Mandarin Chinese language. To give you an idea of the test, there are 11 levels (1-3 is the Basic, 3-8 is the Intermediate and 9-11 is the Advanced). To master the HSK level 1, it is asked to know 1033 words and 800 characters given in HSK 1 Vocabulary list, their pronunciation and the relevant grammar points.

I need to know exactly 1033 words, 800 characters, their pronunciation and the relevant grammar points.This is my goal.

How to use the 3 hours/day I have to get to my goal ?

Attempt one : Use of a textbook without audio.

My first step was buying a chinese book (ISBN 978-2-253-06583-8).

Attempt two: Use of a textbook with audio.

To be honest I got well I got offered one (谢谢 令昀).

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I'm a developer at IO Stark.