Mandarin is the second most widely spoken language in the world and is spoken by over one billion people. The language has many words that can be difficult to learn, so it can be quite challenging to start learning Mandarin! But with this beginner’s guide, you’ll find out how easy it can be with some basic tips and tricks. From understanding tones to using native-speaking teachers, here’s how to get started on your journey.
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What is Mandarin?
Mandarin is a tonal language, which means four different tones can change the meaning of a word. There are four tones in Mandarin: high-level, rising, falling, and low-level. When you learn basic Mandarin, it’s important to remember that not every word has the same tone. The tone of a word will depend on its function in the sentence. For example, words with high tones will be used more often than words with low tones because these words have higher social status or importance within Mandarin. Other examples are words with rising tones being used more often than those without rising tones because these words express emotion more explicitly.
How to understand tones
It can be easy to get confused because Mandarin has four tones. But understanding tones is really important because it can help you understand how words are being pronounced. The idea is to go with your gut instinct and choose the tone that sounds natural to you, but if you need some help, check out this helpful chart of all four tones and what they mean:
1st tone: flat
2nd tone: rising
3rd tone: falling
4th tone: high-falling
Other useful resources include a handy cheat sheet of Chinese characters with their pronunciation and a list of Mandarin words with their pronunciations.
Learn words the easy way
One of the biggest challenges when learning Mandarin is understanding the tones. It’s actually very easy to understand them: all you have to do is listen! By listening to your teacher, you’ll better understand how pronunciation works and recognize patterns in a tone. This will help you make sure that you always know what tone a word is being said in.
Another helpful trick for understanding tones is using a dictionary app. These apps can help you find words pronounced with different tones and then provide audio for each one. That way, you won’t have any trouble figuring out what tone your teacher is speaking in or which word they’re talking about.
It’s always a good idea to find native-speaking teachers. You can find native instructors by doing a quick search on Google or local universities and language schools. There are also many online resources for learning Mandarin, such as Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur.
When it comes to learning a new language, what you do before you go out there and start studying is just as important as what you do while you’re studying. You need to have a plan and also know what to expect. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll cover everything that you need to know before you begin your Mandarin study: what Mandarin is, the importance of tones in Mandarin, how to learn words the easy way, how to find native-speaking teachers and more.
Featured Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay