I think that anyone who has found there way to my little corner of the web will agree that command of Chinese is a valuable, desirable skill to have. Though not particularly an easy one to obtain. Granted, it helps a lot when you know the right way to approach your studies, but don't be fooled, you are still in for a lot of work if you want to really take your Chinese to the next level.
One of the best, if not the best ways to do this is to live abroad and completely immerse yourself in a Chinese speaking culture. There is no lack of language programs for foreigners living in Taipei, Taiwan for example. I myself attended one such school for a semester. You could also higher private tutors from amongst the locals to further your studies. These are both great ideas, but they aren't cheap.
In today's article, I'm going to offer you some alternatives: 5 free ways to learn Chinese. I think we can all "afford" free, right? So let's take a look.
1. Live with a Chinese family:
If you decide to live abroad, one way to rapidly improve your Chinese(especially comprehension) is to live with a local family. I did this for around half a year or so when I was living in Taipei and focused on intensely on my Chinese studies at Shida University.I lived with an elderly couple that went by simply "A'gong" and "A'po", Meaning grandfather and grandmother respectively in Taiwanese dialect. They must've been at least in their 70s, and they didn't speak a lick of English. Needless to say, my Chinese improved immensely just chatting g with them…and boy did they love to talk! If you have the opportunity, I definitely recommend living in a household where Chinese is spoken exclusively, it will really help you speed-up your progress.
2. Find a Language Exchange Partner:
If you don't have the opportunity to live with a Chinese family, you can at the very least make friends with a local person and have them become your language exchange partner. Trust me, you will have no lack of people wanting o be your friend just to learn English, so why not take advantage of that and learn Chinese? It's a win-win situation for everyone. Because Chinese people can be shy when they feel their Enlish is not up to par, don't let that stop you. Star conversations, be friendly. And when all else fails, check on Tealit.com for people interested in finding an LE partner(if you're in Taiwan), or make a profile on Italki.com and find a partner to Skype with. The bottom line is: Make it happen!
3. Watch Chinese shows on Youtube:
One of the best ways to improve your listening comprehension and vocabulary in a foreign language is to watch TV shows in that language, and Chinese is no different. Do a Youtube search for 康熙來了, one of my wife's favorite shows. It's a talk show with a lot of funny characters. You should also check out 大學生了沒 while you're at it! Or if you are in the mood for something more serious, check out 痞子英雄, a Taiwanese cop drama. Another good option would be to watch the news. These are just a few examples, but you get the idea, now go veg-out in front of the TV!
4. Listen to Some Music:
Another great way to improve your listening skills is to listen to Chinese music. You can find a lot of music for free on youtube, or on various radio apps. Why not start by searching for these artists' songs on youtube: Lu, zhang, Chen. That will get you off to a good start.
5. Go to your local Chinese restaurant:
Another idea for improving your Chinese without spending any money is to go down to the local Chinese restaurant and try to speak with your waiter in Chinese. Now, they will most likely be from Hong Kong and primarily speak Cantonese, but most will likely speak Mandarin as well. You'll never know if you don't try! My wife and I have started a lot of conversations by just ordering food, since she is Chinese. It always makes for an interesting time. So go on, be adventurous!
I hope that you found something that you could use in this article. It's easy to think that you'll never learn a language due to limitations that you place on yourself, such as being unable to find native speakers to interact with. Just know that there really is a lot that you can do, you just have to have an open mind to see the possibilities. If you want it bad enough, then you'll make it work.
If you found this article useful, then check-out my article 10 tips to reverse engineering the Chinese language for more Chinese learning tips! Also, please don't be afraid to comment below and share your thoughts!
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