The 8 Best Ways To Learn Chinese + Unlock More Tips

The Truth – What Really Is The Best Way To Learn Chinese?

OK then, here’s the deal… the best way to learn Chinese is:

Make friends with Chinese people

Get a Chinese partner

Study on the Move

Master the Tones

Immerse Yourself

Study 1-on-1

Take advantage of Chinese Learning Apps

BONUS – Best place to Learn Chinese is…?

It’s a broad question that has no correct answer, but a number of potential solutions depending on the type of learner you are.

Here’s some tips to get you started learning Mandarin from your own home.


Thing is. We are all different.

Some people learn Chinese by simply memorizing characters, others like to break characters down and discover the history and their radicals, whilst some just prefer getting stuck into a good old fashioned text book.

Let us give you some of our thoughts on the best way to learn Chinese.

Make friends with Chinese people

Best Way to Learn Chinese - Make Chinese Friends
Best Way to Learn Chinese – Make Chinese Friends

This is a brilliant way to expand your horizons, not just regarding the Chinese language, but the culture as well.

You’ll be learning without even realising and it’s actually great fun.

Sharing dinner, going to a bar or just a casual Sunday afternoon stroll discovering China.

You cannot go wrong when making friends with locals. Our homestay option is a great way of doing this where you can live with a Chinese family and build life long friendships.

Chinese people are known to be incredibly welcoming and friendly.

Our Connection Kit can also help you make friends in China if you are a little shy when making new friends at first.

Before we move onto our next point we also wanted to share with you our LTL PODCAST – this here was our very first episode, we talk about why you should come to study Chinese in China, well worth 15 minutes of your time, we hope!

Ready, steady….

Get a Chinese boyfriend/girlfriend

The best way to learn Chinese? Take things one step further and get yourself in a relationship with a Chinese partner!

This is actually a fantastic way of getting to know about China and the culture of relationships here, if you are willing to take the plunge of course!

Chinese can get complex (see above), but having a local by your side makes it much easier!

Preferably your partner will speak little English.

The less they speak, the more you’ll learn.

Clearly you probably won’t likely pick your partner based on this criteria but it’ll benefit your Chinese skills hugely, and we can guarantee that! If things go well between you, even better!

ICYMI - Part I of our Chinese Dating series
ICYMI – Part I of our Chinese Dating series

Study on the move

Skritter - Chinese Learning
Skritter – Chinese Learning

Let’s face it, we are in a day and age where anything and everything is accessible right at our fingertips.

The joys of the smartphone allow us to study Chinese like never before.

There are so many apps you can use to learn Chinese. Unfamiliar with what you should download?

No problem, we regularly review our favourite Chinese learning Apps via our blog.

DuolingoPleco and Skritter are just three great apps you can download and start using right away.

Take advantage of your metro journey or spend some time with your feet up taking in information, the freedom of studying on your phone is invaluable and should be taken advantage of.

Whether you spend five minutes per day or five hours, you’ll benefit from studying Chinese on your phone.

Learning Chinese on your Phone - Duolingo Review Thumbnail

Learning Chinese on your Phone – Duolingo Review

Duolingo Review – Should I Download Duo for Chinese? In our never ending quest for the best Chinese learning apps our journey takes us to Duolingo. One of the biggest names around in language learning. With most of our other…

Master the Tones

As you’ll see below, learning the tones in Chinese is essential and should not be neglected.

It’s a different concept to what most are used to but it isn’t as tough as you may think. Although it isn’t an exact tip on the best way to learn Chinese per-say, it is something you HAVE to overcome.

Let LTL teach you those tones

TIP – There are four tones, each with their own “sound”.

Be sure to nail these down early and get your pronunciation spot on. By doing this you have built yourself the foundation for learning Chinese.

Savannah with her Homestay Family
Savannah with her Homestay Family

Immerse yourself

Beautiful Chengde - Full Immersion
Beautiful Chengde – Full Immersion

In our opinion, this is the best way to learn Chinese and something we ALWAYS talk about!

If you are on a tight schedule, let’s say in need of a certain level of Chinese for a new job, then immersion in China is the single most important thing to achieve.

Getting caught in the “foreign bubble” in China is an easy thing to do in the bigger cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen, so immersion is far easier to achieve visiting somewhere like Chengde.

This is where the most standard Mandarin is spoken throughout the whole of China and Taiwan and you will not find an Irish Pub or Burger King here.

Chengde Travel Guide - Ultimate Guide for Visiting Chengde Thumbnail

Chengde Travel Guide – Ultimate Guide for Visiting Chengde

The Complete 2020 Chengde Travel Guide Discover Chengde CHENGDE, don’t you mean CHENGDU? Actually no we don’t, they are two different cities, and both very different at that! Going to Chengde is a step into the unknown for 99% of…

We regularly see students visit Chengde and come back to Beijing with a much more advanced level of Chinese.

Stay with a Chinese family in Chengde, live and breathe Chinese 24/7 and you’ll see your Mandarin sky rocket, fast.

Learn about Immersion at LTL

Study Chinese 1-on-1

Similarly to point 4, if you are on a strict time schedule, learning Chinese 1-on-1 will prove much more effective in a two month period than learning in group classes.

Firstly, that’s absolutely nothing against learning Chinese in a group. Group classes offer the chance to learn off your fellow students and work as a team in decoding the language.

Jacqueline and her student in Beijing
Jacqueline and her student in Beijing

However, studying Chinese 1-on-1 gives you the ability to tailor lessons exactly how you want to.

If you want to learn speaking you can, if you prefer to learn about the history of characters, you can.

You will also have the 100% focus of your teacher which is something that is incredibly beneficial.

Take advantage of Chinese Learning Apps

The main page on the Duolingo App

There are sooooooooo many Chinese Language Learning Apps to take advantage of it’s almost overwhelming!

That said we’ve boiled it down nicely for you. Every so often we review some of these apps and publish them via our blog.

You get the household names like Duolingo and Memrise which also cover other languages, and others more tailored towards the Chinese market.

The great thing about using apps to learn Chinese is you can pick what you enjoy most/your greater weaknesses.

Example A – Your spoken Chinese is strong but you struggle with the characters. What app should you download?

LTL Recommends – Download Skritter! An app solely focused on building your knowledge of the characters which also allows you to correct your stroke order! You wouldn’t go far wrong with downloading Chineasy also!

Example B – You are a Chinese beginner, there are so many apps you don’t know which way to turn. Help me LTL!?

LTL Recommends – Download Duolingo and Hello Chinese! Two great all round apps. To find out more read our reviews on them but they are a great way to build your Chinese knowledge quickly!

ChineseSkill App - Rated and Reviewed Thumbnail

ChineseSkill App – Rated and Reviewed

ChineseSkill (2020) – Rated and Reviewed by LTL ChineseSkill – A Chinese Learning App that passed us by ChineseSkill was an app that passed us by at LTL Mandarin School before, perhaps drawn to the bigger hitters like Duolingo and…

Here are some of our favourite Chinese language learning apps on the market.

For a full list of all our Chinese App reviews, visit our Reviews Category on our Blog.

What about the Best Place to Learn Chinese?

Chengde - No Foreigners, No English!
Chengde – No Foreigners, No English!

We are one step ahead of you! We’ve got that covered already in a previous blog post!

Now, of course, you can learn Chinese anywhere in the world, it’s absolutely possible. That said, it will only enhance the speed of learning actually being in China.

Problem is, China is one heck of a country in terms of size, where should you go? So we decided to compile our very own list of the best places to study Chinese in China… drumroll please!

👇👇👇 We reveal the… 👇👇👇

Best place to Learn Chinese in China (for 2020-21) Thumbnail

Best place to Learn Chinese in China (for 2020-21)

Where To Learn Chinese? Here’s Our Top Choices Getting to grips with Chinese Where to Learn Chinese? What’s the best places to learn Chinese in China? Not easy is it! It’s a big old country! There’s no doubt the best…

Learning Chinese – FAQ’s

What is the best way to Learn Chinese on the move?

Podcasts are a great weapon for learning Chinese on a commute to work for example.

If you aren’t at the wheel, then utilise the plethora of Chinese learning apps at your hands. Duolingo, Skritter, Chineseskill and many more are great for topping up your Chinese in those little windows of time you have.

Is Chinese really hard to learn?

It actually isn’t. It is a common misconception that Chinese is hard to learn. This is thought of because it differs so much from any western language, but there are many elements of Chinese that make it incredibly logical.

Chinese grammar is much easier than most, Chinese uses building blocks (when you know one word, you can second guess others), Chinese doesn’t use tenses… the list goes on.

Once you overcome the early stages and master the tones, Chinese is certainly not as hard as everyone thinks.

Can I learn Chinese online?

Although coming to China is important to master elements of the language there is no doubt you can make great progress learning Mandarin online also.

Can I become fluent in Chinese in a year?

Being fluent is a loose term. Many people have different definitions of fluent.

Let’s say your definition is “can I pass HSK 6 in 1 year“.

Yes this is possible, we’ve had students here do it before, we have proof in fact!

That said, this takes intensive study, a great deal of commitment and time. You must want it, and allow yourself to enjoy it.

Can I learn Chinese well online?

It’s possible to build up a good level of Chinese online but nothing beats being in the country itself and immersing yourself in Chinese culture.

How many characters do I need to know to pass HSK 6 and be considered good enough to communicate at native level?

HSK 6 is the highest HSK exam a foreigner can take. To pass this you should know 2633 characters and 5000 words.

Can I learn Mandarin well even in the south of China where Mandarin is less spoken?

Of course, being surrounded by people who speak 100% Mandarin is the best formula for success but that doesn’t mean you cannot reach fluency in areas where other dialects are spoken, such as Shanghai or Guangdong province for example.

Many Chinese from the north are increasingly often relocating down south for the nicer weather. Couple this with the governments wish to spread Mandarin throughout all areas of China, this means actually you’ll be able to find Mandarin speakers all over China.

Want more from LTL?

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