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How to Improve Chinese Speaking & Writing Proficiency

The Chinese language(Mandarin in particular) has the distinction of being the most commonly used language in the world, spoken by over a billion people.  But, it is also considered one of the most difficult to learn, especially for Westerners.   In learning Chinese, there are some ways to improve your speaking and writing proficiency swiftly. Below are some pieces of advice on how to expedite your learning process:

1. It takes time to learn how to write in Chinese naturally and fluidly. The best thing to do is to learn by example. Set aside time to read Chinese articles, books, or stories each day and always look up any characters you are unfamiliar with. You can then write sample sentences with these characters to help you remember them. Keep a character diary and accompanying sample sentences each day. You can easily see your progress this way and refer back to the characters you have forgotten.

2. Though paying attention to grammar and punctuation is important, what is most essential is knowing which characters are correct in which context. So, in your character diary, also note the context in which the characters you have learned are used. In Chinese, there is a wide variety of uses for characters and sometimes many characters might seem correct for one circumstance. In time, you will learn to use the most appropriate ones for the right situations.

3. Read about 2000 characters a day. Just as with any language, to speak in, write in, and listen to Chinese properly, it is essential to read a lot. Most people learn better by seeing characters as they are written and to hear them being spoken simultaneously. The more senses you use in your learning, the more you will remember what you are studying. Watching Chinese movies with Chinese subtitles can help you a lot with engaging your senses.

4. Try writing your ideas and thoughts down in Chinese. Begin by writing about simple topics, such “A hobby of mine,” “My recent vacation, “My favorite color,” and so on. You only have to write a few sentences in the beginning, but over time, you will surely find yourself writing more as you learn more characters. As always, pay attention to grammar and to using the most correct character for each context.

5. Note down idioms, common expressions, and transitional phrases in Chinese. Many of these expressions are culturally native, and might seem outlandish to you at first. But knowing these common expressions will greatly aid you in not only understanding the language, but comprehending Chinese culture as well.

6. In your Chinese diary, you can also write about punctuation rules you find peculiar but interesting, and which are important to remember. Like all difficult languages, punctuation in Chinese has particular uses and symbols you need to adapt to. Here is a quick guide on Chinese punctuation.

7. As you progress, you will eventually notice certain mistakes foreigners make while using Chinese. If one is familiar with these mistakes, you will be more likely to not commit these errors yourself in the future.  Check out a list of common mistakes foreigners make while using Chinese.

A final note: You can also get text written in Chinese for you, have your own Chinese writing proofread, and get overall feedback about your Chinese writing at It is a great resource for those learning to write in Chinese.

I hope these pieces of advice are helpful to you and speed up your progress in learning Chinese proficiently.

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Qin Chen focuses on teaching Chinese and language acquisition. She is willing to introduce more about Chinese learning ways and skills. Now, she is working as Mandarin teacher at All Mandarin.

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