About 13% of the world’s population speaks Mandarin Chinese.
Have you ever wished you could speak fluent Chinese with a native speaker?
You might be thinking, “I’ll memorize some Chinese characters and phrases, then I’ll be ready to communicate in the Chinese language.”
Unfortunately, conversational Chinese isn’t that easy.
Many new Chinese language learners try to learn Chinese characters and the Pinyin pronunciation at the same time, without realizing that learning Chinese needs a slightly different approach than that.
Having said this, to learn Chinese is still easier than you think! But before we get to the model, we’d like to tell you why speaking Mandarin Chinese is easier than you think, by debunking 3 popular myths about learning Chinese.
Myth #1: All Chinese characters are pictographic
No, not all characters are pictographic. You may have learned about an early fascination with certain characters like the one above for “horse”, which is indeed pictographic and easier to remember. However, this type of Chinese character creation only makes up at most 4% of total Chinese characters. In other words, if you want to be conversational asap, learning Chinese characters “pictographically” might be not be the best approach.
Myth #2: Memorization of Chinese characters is mandatory to be conversational in Chinese
No. Most Chinese speakers learn how to speak before learning to recognize Chinese characters. Even if you don’t have a tutor/learning buddy, there are cutting-edge technologies like Chatbots to help you practice conversational Chinese, which you can do with or without Chinese characters. You can even learn and chat using Pinyin, which is composed of the letters from the Western alphabet.
Myth #3: I need to learn many Chinese words to be conversational
No. There may be up to 106,230 characters (Yitizi Zidian), but the vast majority of them are archaic. Research shows that you just need 2% of all Chinese words to be conversational. Mastering about 1000 Chinese words is enough for handling daily situations, both in and out of a professional context. (information modified from BBC)
The best and fastest way to become conversational in Mandarin asap is to master spoken Chinese with Pinyin first, and then learn Chinese characters later. Your learning experience will be much more manageable and enjoyable this way.
Here is an unconventional model for fast-track conversational Mandarin Chinese:
In other words, you can learn Hanyu Pinyin for conversation and Chinese characters separately. This way, you can start to communicate in Chinese with half the effort it would have taken if you had studied them together.