10 tips to reverse engineering the Chinese language

I know what you're thinking, "how am I possibly going to learn Chinese to a proficient level, that stuff sounds so hard!" Well, that it is. If you go about thinking of it as something foreign and put it of reach. By placing your mastery of Chinese on the proverbial pedestal, you are guaranteeing yourself a long, arduous journey. So let's do it the smart(dare I say lazy?) way. Using the following tips, I have "mastered" the Chinese language (realistically, everyone will always have room to improve, so no matter how good you get, don't go and get a big head!)

Tip #1:

Make associations- When learning new phrases, it is often very easy to apply the structure learned to the rest of the language. Chinese grammar is very simple for the most part. For example, if you learn the phrase " 這是我的…" once you learn your pronouns, you should be able to switch the 我 out for 你, 他, 她, 他們, etc. Trust me, when you approach your learning with intuition you will make a load of progress in a relatively short time, so get cracking!


Tip #2:

Make the language relevant to you- What I mean by this is, instead of memorizing endless lists of vocabulary words to the point of insanity, learn what interests you. Whether it be sports, cars, movies, whatever, everyone has a hobby. Make that hobby work for you. If you are trying to learn how to talk with your Taiwanese friend that you shoot hoops with about what a big Jeremy Lin fan you are, chances are you'll be a lot more motivated and learn faster than you would just memorizing some moldy old wordbank(yuck!).


Tip #3:

Mimic your way to mastery- instead of over analyzing your own Chinese pronunciation, grammar, whatever, make it your goal to focus on really listening and copying a native speaker, through videos, mp3s, in person if you can or any combination of the above. Chances are, when you stop focussing on yourself you'll make a lot of progress. So in other words, monkey-see-monkey-do…err monkey-say? 


Tip #4:

Live the Language- By far, the best way I know to learn a language, and what in fact was a huge factor in my own success, is to actually live in a country where people speak it…I know, I'm blowing your mind now, right? Unfortunately, this is now going t be possible for everyone. Most people have jobs, families, pets, mortgages…you know, responsibilities. That's cool. It's part of life. Still, don't let that stop you, you can plan on vacationing in Taiwan or China to "test" your Chinese, or even as an excuse to pick a little up. Still, not everyone has the time or resources for trips around the globe. Don't fret, the answer to your dilemma just may lie down in Tip #5!


Tip #5:

Find a way- While it's true that not everyone has the means to make the "pilgrimage" to the Chinese speaking world, that doesn't mean that they can't bring the world of Chinese to them. It's the twenty-first century people! There's a new invention called the World Wide Web, or hadn't you heard? Chances are, if you're reading this, then you have =) Alright, sorry for being obnoxious, it's getting late and I apologize. But I digress. There are SOOOO many tools at your disposal available various places online. You've already found EazyChinese.com, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. One very useful website is italki.com. Italki is a networking site that allows users to connect with other users all over the world. Hop over there, create a profile and you can find a language exchange partner or a tutor. I'll be writing to you about more Chinese learning resources in the future, so make sure you take advantage of them!


Tip #6:

Get uncomfortable- Just like when you learned how to ride a bike, swim, or pretty much any other skill you may have picked up since being born into this wild world, you have to first suck at Chinese. Now don't freak out! I know we all have an ego, even if we'd like to believe that we don't, and we all hate losing face by allowing people see that we aren't good at something. But step back an look at the big picture for a minute: you don't expect to waltz into a jiu-jitsu class and start beating everyone on the first day, right? Do you see how ridiculous it is to expect otherwise? So now I want you to take that attitude and apply it towards learning Chinese. You'll stumble and fall at first, but all you have to do is get back up and back on that bike. The truth is you won't make much progress in Chinese until you learn to be uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. So step outta' your comfort zone already! 


Tip #7:

Dive in deeper- Chinese is a rich, beautiful language, and to truly understand it, one must understand Chinese people, as language and culture are closely intertwined. This can be witnessed in many Chinese phrases and idioms. For example, 吃 means eat and  飯 means rice, but Chinese will say 吃飯 (literally eat rice)to mean eat. This is because rice is a traditional staple of the Chinese diet. This is just one example, as this topic could easily fill a book on its own!


Tip #8:

The pen is mightier than the sword!- This one may seem a little counter-intuitive at first, but hear me out. A great way to improve your Chinese vocabulary is learning to read and write Chinese characters. Doing this serves two purposes. 1. You will have a deeper understanding of Chinese, and knowing the characters will give you insight into the true meanings of Chinese words, which will allow you to pick up vocabulary at an alarming rate. 2. Read books in Chinese(I'm a fan of comics my self!) to learn useful vocabulary and see how they are used in everyday spoken Chinese. I can't emphasize the importance of this enough, so go grab a Chinese book and download Pleco and get started!


Tip #9:

That voice in the back of my head- This is going to one across as cheesy, but it's simple and it works. If you are in a situation where you seldom have someone to speak in Chinese with, then you can carry on Chinese conversations in your head, or why not narrate your life in Chinese! Don't be surprise if you start dreaming in Chinese if you do this often enough!


Tip #10:

It's okay to be a couch potato- Watching movies and TV shows in Chinese is one of the bet ways to improve our listening and comprehension. Pick a good kungfu movie, like Ip Man, and watch it in Mandarin. But turn off the English subtitles! Granted, you aren't going o understand a whole lot at first, but give it time and you will. For an added challenge, turn on the Chinese subtitles and use them to practice your reading!

So there you have it, my top ten tips for hacking the Chinese language. Put one or a few of these tips into practice and your Chinese will start to improve dramatically. Make them ALL a part of your Chinese learning process and I guarantee results. Thanks again for stopping by, and make sure to subscribe to my mail list, and enjoy your next 7 days of free Chinese lessons! And feel free to update us on your progress or ask any questions you may have over here at EazyChinese.com. Talk to you soon, and good luck!


#Picture from: Google search