While Chinese is actually a group of related languages, the largest member of this group, Mandarin, has nearly a billion speakers. While the speaker of one local variety may not understand another, the standardised form, based on the Beijing dialect, is widely understood by people all over China and around the world.
China also happens to be the world's second-largest economy and is classified as an emerging and developing economy, meaning that things are only going to get better for those involved in it and those who can speak its language.
Thanks to globalisation, it’s never been easier to learn a foreign language, even a seemingly complicated one like the Mandarin language. There are groups like the Confucius Institute Network UK that promote the Chinese culture and language. There are 510 in the world and 13 in the UK.
They are the best places to find out more about Chinese lessons and Chinese culture, of course. There are also plenty of other ways to learn Chinese like traditional resources, groups and associations, and language exchanges. In this article, we’re going to show you all the different resources you can make use of to learn Mandarin Chinese as spoken in mainland China and Taiwan.
Traditional Resources for Learning Mandarin Chinese
It’s often thought that traditional resources are the best way to learn foreign languages. You can use them for learning about a variety of different aspects of languages such as:
- Chinese characters or ideograms.
- Chinese language and culture.
- Exercises focusing on linguistic skills such as the spoken language, pronunciation, and tones.
These resources are useful for both teachers and students alike. With just a book on Chinese, you can learn to read and write, even on your own. Before you start speaking, you should know that Chinese is a tonal language.
Chinese writing is a gateway to Chinese culture! Books are also a great way to learn more about the history of the People's Republic of China, the Great Wall of China, or Chinese philosophers such as Confucius.
There are tonnes of private Chinese tutors from all over the UK on Superprof ready to start teaching you how to speak Chinese. The main question is how and when you should use these traditional Chinese resources. While certain resources are good for teaching yourself, others need to be used in certain teaching environments such as:
- Primary school, secondary school, sixth form, college, or university.
- Private language school
- Private Chinese tutorials with a tutor
In these three cases, you’ll also have an opportunity to work on speaking and listening, which you won’t be able to with just a book in your house.
To get the most out of learning Mandarin Chinese, you should probably keep a bilingual dictionary to hand. Curious children enjoy collecting beautiful books!
What do you think is the best age for children to start learning Mandarin?
Learning Chinese with Groups and Associations
With 1.2 billion speakers, Chinese is an official language of many international organisations, and rightly so. Chinese is made up of several parts: Chinese writing, grammar, pronunciations, etc. It’s one of the most demanding languages to learn. The advantage of associations is all the resources they provide to various levels:
- For beginners, there are introductions to Chinese writing and characters.
- Intermediates can enjoy more technical aspects of the language such as phonetic transcription and speaking with native speakers.
- Advanced students can enjoy conversation classes.
There are also lessons available on computers taught by Chinese teachers. Chinese, after European languages such as French, Spanish, German, and Italian, is one of the most common languages taught in the UK.
Associations are also useful for those who wish to travel to China as they offer advice and resources. There are events like:
- Mandarin Chinese conversation classes
- Visiting a Chinese-language museum
- Going to the cinema to see a Chinese film
- A Chinese-themed picnic.
There are tonnes of interesting and different ways to learn Mandarin Chinese and associations are a great way to bring language learning and culture together. There are Chinese associations all over the country so anyone, wherever they live, should be able to learn Chinese.
Thanks to these associations, Children can learn more about Chinese while also learning about different aspects of life in China.
Get to find out about Chinese middle class here.
Resources for Getting Children Started with Chinese
There are two main reasons as to why the internet is such a great resource for learning to speak a foreign language:
- You can sign up to online Chinese lessons with tutors
- There are plenty of digital resources for you to practise Chinese regularly
Skype and Facebook, for example, can be used to get in touch with people who want to practise speaking or writing a certain language by either calling them or sending them messages. It’s perfect for learning a language and making new friends.
Apps like Babbel and Lingq are also useful resources. You can learn Chinese vocabulary and expressions. They’re quite useful if you’re getting ready to travel to China. Let’s not forget useful translation tools which can be used to help you write and understand Chinese.
When you first start learning Chinese, you need to use a variety of different resources to get the most out of your studies. Don’t forget to use other digital resources to help you learn to speak Chinese and to correct your mistakes. These resources can include:
- Free Chinese YouTube channels from native speakers wanting to share their mother tongue.
- Fun YouTube channels with Chinese teachers from the UK or other English-speaking countries.
- Television channels broadcasting Chinese-language programming from reality TV to cooking shows.
- Podcasts and radio shows that you can listen to whenever and wherever you like.
What’s the main advantage of these resources?
Almost all of them are free! This is great for learning the basics of the language without having to make a financial investment until you absolutely have to. Of course, a computer can never teach you the subtleties of a language like a dedicated teacher can. That said, they are great for learning more about Chinese culture, customs, and life. Immerse yourself in Chinese culture from the comfort of your own home.
Why are there so many resources for beginners to learn Chinese?
Because they’re so accessible (and they're still free!).
Children prefer digital resources when it comes to learning a language at a young age because it’s easy, especially when it comes to learning at home or on public transport!
The Best Resource for Young People Learning Chinese: Studying Abroad
Referring to studying abroad as a resource might sound odd, but to be fair, it’s technically the best way to become an expert in Mandarin Chinese. Generally speaking, a language exchange programme includes:
- Theoretical language classes
- Practical language classes
- Workshops for learning about local culture
- Trips to cultural and educational sites
This is like having intensive lessons where you’ll learn the language very quickly. While you can organise studying abroad through a university or private institution, you can also travel to China yourself and work it all out for yourself. You’ll return with a much better knowledge of the language. When it comes to speaking Chinese fluently, there’s nothing better than spending time immersing yourself in the country.
There are also a number of similar experiences you can opt for such as summer camps for kids to learn more about the language and the country. There are also professional language programmes for adults to work and study in the host country.
Which children don’t like to travel? And while you're on the road, you can implement these ten tips to make learning fun!
This is perfect for learning Chinese in the long term.
More Information on Teaching Children Chinese
How Much Do Chinese Courses Cost?
Chinese courses vary according to which resources they use. For example:
- A bespoke tutorial organised by a private tutor will be tailored to the student and will take more time to plan.
- Chinese distance learning requires less tailoring.
- An online course can be put together more quickly as they’re not tailored to individual students.
The resources used and the time spent planning will influence the cost of Mandarin London lessons. You have to choose the most effective method for your budget.
On Superprof, our private tutors can use almost any resource to teach you Chinese and you talk to them about which you prefer. These resources are usually used in addition to their teaching rather than on their own.
On the other hand, learning from a specific resource can be useful for studying on your own or perfecting a certain aspect of the language. You need to find a balance between all of the different ways to teach Mandarin to children and they’ll soon be speaking Chinese fluently.
Ready to go?