Friday, July 6, 2012

Chinese Language: Knowing Where to Begin

By Suzanne Brickman

First, congratulations on your interest in learning Chinese! Cognizant of your future, curious about other cultures, and seeking the knowledge to help you get there are the characteristics that will help you be successful in Mandarin Chinese! You have chosen a crucial path that is not often taken and you will see the rewards of your choice in the not-so-distant future!

Knowing How to Get Started: An Overview

Understanding how different this language is from English is the first step toward success. Once you understand the differences, can identify what is most important, and take action toward your goal, you will be far ahead of the pack. The glaring differences are as follows:

*This language focuses on ideas rather than individual words.

*Chinese characters are the embodiment of those ideas.

*Others will only be able to understand what you say when you use tones that are a lot like singing.

*Mandarin utilizes four main tones.

*After tones, PinYin will be the best way to learn the sounds.

Getting Started: The Fundamentals

With these thoughts in mind, take a moment to consider why you are learning the language. If it is your desire to converse in Chinese, then focusing your attention on tones and PinYin will be a great place to start! Once you know the fundamentals, you can then begin to get a general feel for the language through basic phrases and sentence structure.

How to Get Started: Basic Structure and Vocabulary

Basic phrases will certainly help you begin using Mandarin Chinese. With great practicality, you will find vocabulary to be logical, and often, easier to remember than English terms! Since items are named based on an idea or an object's usefulness, you'll find vocabulary pretty intuitive.

So, you will probably start with important phrases like "Thank You in Chinese" and "You're Welcome in Chinese" or other such phrases that you will probably simply memorize. Then, basic vocabulary (like the ten most-used verbs, subjects, time phrases, and locations) will help you have the building blocks you need for simple sentences. Of course, knowing in which order to place these building blocks will be important, but not difficult to learn.

Knowing How to Get Started: Mystique of the Chinese Language

Once you have tones, PinYin, vocabulary, and basic structure down, you'll be ready to discover the mysteries of this beautiful language! Even though this stage may be reaching in a year or two, it's still an incredibly rewarding aspect of learning!

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