3 Tips for Keeping Mandarin Fresh Outside the Classroom

You’ve signed up for your Mandarin language course, be it online or in-person, and are making progress. However, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of effort needed to truly master this difficult dialect. For speakers of romance languages, Chinese seems a formidable opponent. But with over 1 billion speakers, it’s extremely important you do what you can to master Mandarin. Check out these top 3 tips to help hone your language skills when you’re not in class:

1. Set a post-class lunch date.

Practice your new vocabulary and sentence structure while they’re still fresh. Students find the language so difficult because of the wide variation in speaking in writing (much more so than what we’re used to). Add that to the four main tones, the task of remembering each tone for every word, and your head will be spinning!

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Review immediately after class with a friendly post-class lunch or coffee date with classmates. Decide to keep the conversation to Mandarin: your similar levels create a mutual understanding and support amongst the group. An easy-paced conversation will cement your knowledge of the language before proceeding into the rest of your day.

2. On-the-go language apps.

With increasingly busy lifestyles, it can seem difficult to find the time to practice your Mandarin skills if you feel as if you’re constantly on the run. Which is why there’s an app just for that! There are numerous free apps for those learning to speak and read Mandarin and you can easily download one to your mobile device for daily practice while you’re running from place to place.

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When choosing the perfect app, be sure to look for one that will encourage you to expand your vocabulary. Word association and repetition are key for building a good Mandarin vocab bank, but having an app which hooks you into an online community is also a plus. The more you interact with other learners, the faster you will improve. Now your daily commute can be just a little more productive!

3. Change the language settings on your phone.

As you know, the written portion of the Chinese language is definitely one of the most daunting aspects of learning it. If your native language is Latin-based, looking at all those little symbols can feel overwhelming and may make you wonder if you’ll ever catch on.

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One of the more unusual ways to get a grasp on some of your Chinese reading skills is by changing the language settings on all your devices to Chinese! Yep, that means phone, tablet, computer, and any other device you use on a daily basis. It will be extremely frustrating at first as you try to figure out what means what, but seeing those Chinese characters on a daily basis and in small doses will trigger your brain to think less Latin-based and more Chinese-based.

Whether you’re learning Mandarin to communicate with clients, in preparation for a business trip abroad, or simply because you enjoy the challenge, tackling this fascinating language can turn out to be very rewarding. Of course, you can’t make good headway without some excellent language classes, so definitely sign up for some of those or take a free language placement exam to see where you stand. Mandarin Chinese is one of the oldest languages in the world which is still in use, and has over 20,000 written characters. With its vibrant history and gripping nuances, learning it will be a worthy undertaking!

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