When I started learning Chinese, I took a bunch of courses.I did tests, made learning cards, imprinted vocabulary lists, wrote thousands of characters. After a year, I realized how slow I was learning and I decided to go my own way. I started using some of the techniques below, but didn’t realize the best ways to learn until I was already quite fluent.
If I had to start over, I would do it like this:
I wouldn’t spend a minute in formal lessons.Don’t pay thousands of dollars to sit quietly in a room with 30 other people and listen to a teacher for six hours a day. If you spend this time learning Chinese, spend it actively.
From the beginning, I would find 2-3 Chinese students teaching me every day (probably still cheaper than enrolling in a school).I spent the entire six hours reading *loud* dialogues from Chinese language textbooks. If I were to get involved in a word or phrase, I would ask the tutor to explain it and then move on. This teaches you to read, speak, and listen at once.
Skip everything else in the book.No filling in the gaps. No. No lists of vocabulary. No learning cards. If a word is important, you will see it again. Most importantly, with this method, every time you see a word, the context of actual use is and *you* will use it.
Once you’ve gone through all the dialogues in a book, get a new book.Take a slightly harder one.
Watch TV in your free time and use WeChat (China’s largest messaging app).
You probably have Chinese friends.Add them to WeChat. They definitely use WeChat. Talk to them all the time. They’re probably interested in finding out where you’re coming from and from what perspective you see the world. Tell them. Force yourself to type Chinese. It will be incredibly slow at the beginning, and you may have to look up every other word. That’s ok. You will improve quickly, because your brain will want to make communication easier for you. (This assumes that you don’t have to learn how to *handwrite Chinese characters*. Realistically, if you’re not a tattoo artist, you’ll probably never need that.
Start with children’s TV shows online.But spend all your time listening to and reading the subtitles (Chinese TV shows almost always have subtitles). I suggest that you do so. If you’re good enough, stop watching cartoons. Watch the news and Chinese movies. But continue reading the subtitles.
It’s going to be hard.You will think that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There will be weeks when you wish you never started learning Chinese. But if you do these things every day (no scam), you will be fluent in 6 months or less.