How to Learn Chinese – Free eBook

How to learn Chinese, what is the most effective way to study Mandarin, what are the tried and trusted methods? Questions like these are ones we get asked a lot at LTL. The best way to learn Chinese is not to simply spend hours rote memorizing characters, but to learn smart. You need to know how to learn tones, the best way to memorize characters, which apps and websites to use and how to keep motivated while learning Chinese. Everyone has their own methods to succeed but it’s important to find yours rather than endlessly reading through those Chinese books doing the same monotonous thing.

Let ten world famous Chinese language learners tell you in the free Ultimate GuidEbook to Learning Mandarin Chinese their tricks, advice and what they recommend as the most useful ways to learn Mandarin. Both for beginners and those who’ve already started learning, we help you to avoid the most common mistakes Chinese language learners make and benefit from our learning experiences.

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How to Learn Chinese - Free eBook

Mandarin Learning Tips and Advice from 10 Language Specialists

  • Pronunciation And Tones

    One thing I always tell people is that as with any language, it’s a good idea to practice speaking or at least get your mouth moving as early as you can. This is doubly so with Mandarin.

    Chris Parker

    Pronunciation And Tones |
  • Remembering Chinese Words

    There are two tips I want to give to help you learn words faster – first I want you to notice some words you already know, and then I’ll give a tip for remembering the majority of unfamiliar words you’ll come across much quicker.

    Benny Lewis

    Remembering Chinese Words |
  • Improving Listening Ability

    You get what your teacher says, but strangers seem to speak a different language. You hang out with Chinese people, but find it hard to catch what they say among themselves. Does this sound familiar?

    Olle Linge

    Improving Listening Ability |
  • Mastering Sentence Structure

    My method of mastering Chinese is one that may work when studying many other languages: learn full sentences, not single words or characters.

    Verena Menzel

    Mastering Sentence Structure |
  • Motivation to Study

    One of the biggest realisations I have made in my Chinese learning journey is that motivation is a finite resource. You don’t have total control over your motivation and recognising that lets you use your time and energy in a more effective way.

    Hugh Grigg

    Motivation to Study |
  • Immersion Chinese for Dummies

    Some people just naturally hear tones and some remember characters by just looking through them. I never did and it took me a long time to figure out how to learn Mandarin. Once I did, I finally mastered the language.

    Andreas Laimboeck

    Immersion Chinese for Dummies |
  • Expanding your Chinese Abroad

    Learning Chinese in China does not mean you will learn it better than someone learning it outside China. You simply need to access the language from where you are and take some steps to integrate Chinese into your life.

    Richard Simcott

    Expanding your Chinese Abroad |
  • Using Technologies in Studies

    In the past few years, new technologies have experienced impressive developments. Which are the main tools that the new digital age offers to obtain a greater efficiency in studying Mandarin?

    Sborto Zhou

    Using Technologies in Studies |
  • Learn Chinese by Having Fun!

    Perhaps one of the greatest secrets to learning Chinese may not really be a huge secret after all: follow your passions and learn by having fun!

    Greg Bell

    Learn Chinese by Having Fun! |
  • Learning Characters Methods

    A friend of mine calls them birds’ foot scratches in the sand – I see pictographs in them representing images and ideas. But either way, at first sight Chinese characters will look like a puzzle to be solved!

    Marcus Pentzek

    Learning Characters Methods |

Learning Chinese – Problem Pairs

It’s very easy to get certain words mixed up in Chinese especially when you have four tones to adhere to. Be sure to get your tones perfected early on. Our Tones Infographic below will tell you everything you need to know about cracking them as quickly as possible.

Once you master the tones you’ll start to hear the difference between these #ProblemPairs – to the untrained ear these my sound the same, but with a little bit of practice you’ll be speaking Chinese like a pro.

We’ll add to the list of #ProblemPairs all the time to give you all the free resources you need to learn Chinese

How to Learn Chinese – Building Blocks

Learning Chinese is actually incredibly logical. Generally it’s the fear that puts people off studying Mandarin. Imagine a language built of lots of small building blocks, the more you learn the easier it gets. With Chinese, this is exactly the case. To showcase this we have provided you with a host of #BuildingBlocks below which show how logical learning Chinese is. Rather than random words, everything is built from the basic radicals and characters. Once you know a few Chinese characters, the rest will start to come more naturally. Taking on Chinese head on is all in the mind, if you want it enough, you will achieve your goals.

How to Learn Chinese Blog Posts

  • Chinese isn't so hard

    LTL Blog

    On the face of it learning Chinese can be incredibly daunting but it really doesn’t have to be. It’s very different from most other languages but there are many hugely logical areas of learning Chinese. We run down our favourites with this blog post.

    Learning Chinese isn’t hard

    Chinese isn't so hard |
  • Skritter Review

    LTL Blog

    Skritter is an app created at helping Chinese learning students get familiar with Chinese characters. It’s ability to also teach stroke order means it has gained huge popularity with it’s theory of repetition to teach mandarin learners characters.

    Skritter Review

    Skritter Review |
  • Hello Chinese Review

    LTL Blog

    Hello Chinese is a popular Chinese learning App many Chinese learning students use. It is widely used around the world by Mandarin learners and uses pinyin, Chinese characters and imagery to teach students Chinese.

    Hello Chinese Review

    Hello Chinese Review |
  • Duolingo Review

    LTL Blog

    Duolingo is one of the biggest language learning apps in the world and thankfully they offer a Chinese edition, but just how good is it? Follow our review of Duolingo and see if it’s worth the download.

    Duolingo Review

    Duolingo Review |
  • Tinycards Review

    LTL Blog

    Tinycards is an app that helps users memorize things with the use of flashcards. There are a huge amount of decks in which suers can learn Chinese. Read our review on the sister app of Duolingo.

    Tinycards Review

    Tinycards Review |
  • Argue in Chinese

    LTL Blog

    We all learn the useful phrases for getting by in China but what if you are faced with confrontation? How will you get by? It’s useful to know how to stand up for yourself. We reveal all with our “How to Argue in Chinese” blog!

    How Argue in Chinese

    Argue in Chinese |
  • Friends in Chinese

    LTL Blog

    Friends is one of the most popular TV Sitcoms of all time and it’s equally liked in China. Beijing even boasts it’s own Friends themed cafe! We translate the main characters and some of their most famed quotes.

    Friends in Chinese

    Friends in Chinese |

Best way to Learn Chinese?

Zander making friends in Chengde

Zander making friends in Chengde

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

1a – Make friends with Chinese people. 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. Our Connection Kit can also help you make friends in China if you are a little shy when making new friends at first.

1b – Get a Chinese boyfriend/girlfriend. 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! 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 you hugely!

2 – Study on the move. 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. Duolingo, Pleco 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.

3 – 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. 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

4 – Immerse yourself. 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. 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.

5 – 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. 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.

Learn Chinese Infographics

Learning Chinese isn't as difficult as you'd think. We are Mandarin language experts and to help you further we are creating a whole bunch of hugely useful infographics relating to learning Mandarin.

  • Learning Chinese Tones

    Learn those tones in Chinese with our useful Tones Infographic for Mandarin speakers. If there is one thing you should master early on, it’s tones. Take it from us!

    Chinese Tones Infographic

    Learning Chinese Tones |
  • Le 了 Infographic

    Le 了 is a character that causes much confusion. It has many uses and is very easy to use incorrectly. Never fear, this is why we’ve dedicated to much to creating this great infographic.

    How to use Le 了

    Le 了 Infographic |
  • Lai / Qu Infographic

    Coming or going? Lai and Qu are two Chinese words you’ll find yourself using everyday  so it’s important to get it right. Our comprehensive, easy-to-follow graphic explains all.

    How to use Lai & Qu

    Lai / Qu Infographic |