We just finished our Chinese lesson for today, and I thought sharing the resources that we use and the reasons that we are learning Chinese might be helpful to those who are considering it.
First, some facts:
- One fifth of the planet speaks Chinese.
- Mandarin Chinese is the mother tongue of over 873 million people, making it the most widely spoken first language in the world.
- China is the second largest economy in the world.
- China is one of largest trading partners of the United States.
- Many US companies do business in China and have long-term investments there.
Personally, we aren't striving for fluency in this language. We are working towards a basic understanding of the language, basic conversational skills, and basic writing. We have two other language we are studying that we are working toward fluency - Chinese is an extra...and just for fun, for us.
Now, despite the fact that learning Chinese can be difficult, there are many ways to make learning it easier. Through audio/video lessons paired with Chinese Pinyin, learning Chinese is attainable!
Let me share with you what we use for learning Chinese.
Our main sources for learning the language is Learn Chinese Online. We are learning Mandarin (most common dialect). Just click on Free Mandarin Chinese Lessons to get started. You will see at the top of the page: "For standard pinyin (e.g. you've studied Chinese before with that system), please click here." Click that link. Standard Pinyin is the best way to learn, in my opinion, because it has the tonal marks which will help you learn to pronounce the words properly. This site has 15 FREE lessons, and then you can pay $10 to become a member and have access to everything. That's quite affordable for a foreign language program.
Each lesson has an audio example of the word or phrase, so you can repeat it accurately and HEAR the tones. For Chinese, it's not pronunciation...it's intonation that's key.
We also like Chinese with Gloria as a supplement. It's a great video series of lessons!
I've found a very helpful resource for learning how to read and write Chinese as well. One benefit of learning to read and write Chinese is that you also learn Chinese culture along the way. It's intertwined.
I recommend this book: Chinese Language for Beginners by Lee Cooper. This book gives a step-by-step process of learning and understanding basic Chinese symbols and then building on them. It makes it simple. And it makes it understandable.
Now, there are clearly MANY resources for learning Chinese out there. These are just the resources that we use. I will also give a mention to Mango. Check to see if your library subscribes to it...and if they do, you can learn Chinese and many other languages for free through this program. We started Chinese using Mango with our library until the library no longer subscribed to it. I recommend it. Mango is also available for purchase, if you are interested.
I hope this was useful for anyone interested in learning the language, or even just getting acquainted with it for fun. Enjoy!