This guest blog post comes from Nora Mork, an education journalist at Boom Essays and UK Writings. She loves studying, reading, doing yoga and hiking, and sharing her stories at blogs, such as Essay Roo service blog.
Learning a new language is always a challenge, so it can be good to arm yourself with knowledge about the most common mistakes made by others. This will help you avoid them yourself, and may also give you a better understanding of how the learning process works.
Mandarin can be a daunting language to learn, particularly if you are more familiar with European languages. It’s extremely useful if you want to travel or converse with people in China, but getting to grips with it isn’t easy. Some of these tips apply to learning any language, so you may be able to transfer them across if you’re trying to get multi-lingual!
1) Unrealistic Expectations
Approach any challenge with realism and don’t expect miracles overnight. Learning a language is very difficult and takes a lot of dedication. While you shouldn’t be put off by that, being realistic makes it more likely you’ll keep at it and won’t burn yourself out within a few weeks.
We’re always excited to start something new and most of us want to get stuck in and throw hours into anything we’re motivated by. However, a slow and steady pace is much more likely to reward you when learning a language.
Pronunciation and tone are key in any language you want to learn, but this is perhaps particularly true of Mandarin. Getting the wrong tone of voice can make it nearly impossible for a native speaker to understand your meaning, even if you’ve got the vowels and consonants right.
The best way to learn about tone and get the right tone is to listen to as many native speakers as you can. This might be difficult if you aren’t able to go somewhere where Mandarin is spoken during your learning process, but the internet is a wonderful resource which you should utilize. “Listen to casual speakers, news reports, podcasts – anything you can find which will help you learn how the language sounds” says James David, a language blogger.
3) Positive And Negative Inversions
This may be one of the most complex aspects of learning Mandarin; many questions are formed using a positive-negative inversion. It’s very easy to use both styles of this within a sentence once you have learned them, so it’s essential you’re careful to distinguish between them and use them correctly, or your sentences won’t make much sense. Occasionally, it’s possible to use both within a sentence, but only if the sentence asks two questions.
4) Trying To Say Too Much
Beginners aren’t known for constructing the most elegant sentences, but it’s a common mistake to try and put too much in at once. The result is a clumsy sentence which is difficult to decipher properly. While getting to grips with the language, try to avoid cramming too much information in at once.
5) Spending Excessive Time On The Characters
There’s no doubt that learning to write in Chinese characters is a challenge, but getting too caught up in it can hinder your overall learning. It can also burn you out and make it hard to actually get a proper grip on the language. You really don’t need to learn all the characters and try to write them perfectly; it’s too time consuming, and you’ll soon find you’ve forgotten almost as much as you’ve learned. Very few adults have time to learn how to write so many characters, so it’s best not to attempt it.
6) Very Intense Material
Trying to get through a huge page of complicated text is admirable, but not the best way to learn. “Many language experts think that reading very easy material is the best way to ease into a language, rather than struggling with high-level, difficult vocabulary to start with” explains John Billman, a tutor.
7) Word Order
Grammar is often one of the biggest challenges in any language learning, but with a language like Mandarin, it’s really difficult. One tip on a common mistake is that adverbials (usually time, place, or manner) ought to go before the verb in Mandarin, whereas in English, they go after it most of the time.
Learning a language is a challenge, but it’s also a great way to broaden your mind and understanding of the world. With these tips, hopefully you’ll feel a little more prepared to get started on the difficult journey of Mandarin!