What Are Some Good Tips For Improving My Chinese?

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What are some good tips for improving my Chinese?

I’m a Chinese-American who grew up in the states speaking English and Chinese. As Zhenxing Wang says, at some point you should visit China and immerse yourself in an environment speaking Chinese—and you’ll find your Chinese improve a lot. But for those of us in the states or elsewhere in the world where there aren’t as many opportunities to speak it, I can recommend some general tips. Try to actually be interested in China for China’s sake. Follow the news, the politics, the economy, literature, history, etc. You need to be psychologically invested and optimistic about learning the Chinese culture if you want to devote any serious amount of time to actually becoming fluent in Chinese. It also makes the experience more fun. Try to focus less on memorizing grammar rules and more on reading and listening to how Chinese is actually used in daily conversations and in the news. Learn how to read and write Chinese characters from the start. Yes, pinyin is helpful but that’s not how Chinese is written, and knowing pinyin is not going to help much when reading news or signs or books or poetry. Start with very basic sentences, and actually write characters by hand. Break hanzi into radicals if it helps you remember them. Mnemonics don’t really help much because it just means one more useless thing to remember. You’ll naturally find that the characters have a natural rhythm and vibe, a living etymological structure and pattern of their own. for example 忍 (ren) has a knife 刀 (dao) on top with a dash through it and a heart 心 (xin) on the bottom. It roughly means ‘tolerance’ or ‘grit’ (you can endure a knife to the heart), but it just has a different cloud of contextual cultural connotation in Chinese. But try to master the pronunciation of words even if you don’t remember hanzi the first time. Even Chinese people sometimes forget how to write certain characters, but t still know how to pronounce them. And with pinyin IME, as long as you know the pronunciation and can recognize the word (even if you can’t reproduce by hand), you can still type the hanzi. Flashcards help less than just daily exposure and continuous writing—NOT rote repetition writing but actually writing sentences that you would say to other people in real-life situations. Be creative. Don’t worry if your pronunciation or grammar is not perfect from the start. Babies babble their way to fluency. You just need to keep speaking and be very receptive and open-minded about criticisms. 祝奜

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