So I've studied Chinese for two years in high school(and now i'm a college freshman) and I was hoping to minor in Chinese or at least get a certification in it however the college I am attending doesn't offer Chinese(as most don't where I live) but I eventually have to transfer anyways and plan on picking it up then. Unfortunately this won't be for another year or maybe even two and although I am used to learning languages on my own Chinese is a little more difficult to practice if you don't have the right materials(personally speaking that is) so I was wondering if you guys had any suggestions or what materials you find work the best for Chinese? THANKS!
I use "HelloChinese" app. It's set out like a Duolingo tree. I really recommend this. It teaches you through sentences, how to write the characters and also pronunciation. Also the app "HelloTalk" - so you can practise with native speakers.
Mandarin x offers free courses which are pretty good. - https://www.edx.org/school/mandarinx
Finally - If you like to use Youtube, I recommend - 1 - https://www.youtube.com/user/chineseclass101 2 - https://www.youtube.com/user/MinnaXiao/videos 3 - https://www.youtube.com/user/sloppycheng/videos
I mostly use the "HelloChinese" app, the book "Graded Chinese reader 2000 words," and an app and website called "speaky" where you can chat with native speakers(in almost any language).
I had no experience of Chinese prior to moving to China about a year ago, but here's how I've been learning Chinese and basically all languages before Chinese:
First: Find an app that teaches you the language in a structured way.
(Duolingo already does that job, but for languages that haven't graduated into beta... ) In your case, download HelloChinese or ChineseSkill. I prefer HelloChinese for various reasons, but ChineseSkill can help you expand your vocabulary.
Second: Find out their writing or phonetic system.
(Chinese is like hieroglyphs so it won't help you read the writing and then try to discern the sound, for the most part. So what you should do is use a system called "pinyin".) Since I think you're familiar with all of this ... I use this table and its instructional videos religiously, for learning Mandarin pinyin pronounciation
Third: Be able to disect words or characters or letters to help you distinguish them from other words.
In chinese, the way you can "disect" things is to look at each individual character. 火 means fire and 灭 means to put out a fire. From the way they look, you can see that the line drawn over the 火 may have a meaning of "stopping” or "restraining". In other languages, suffixes and prefixes describe how the word grammatical works itself into the language.... It all depends on the language you're studying.
Although you can read characters as a whole, the smae way yuo cna mkae out waht I'm writing here without needing to look too much at the spelling, it won't be a bad idea to understand how radicals come together. Why? There was a time I confused 人 with 入 .... Similarly, a Chinese person can confuse O and Q... Q is just an O with a little line in it.
Fourth: Download a few Duolingo extensions to fit your need. My favourite is the Duolingo reverse tree enhancer on (http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Duolingo_Userscripts). It gives you the Google-TTS so you can test your listening skills until Duolingo comes out with its own course with a working TTS system. Use this extension only some of the time, as you may also need to improve your reading skills.
Last but not least, learn the grammar first, and fill in the vocabulary later. Grammar can help you guess some vocabulary because you know how everything else works together in the context :)
In a normal conversations, I'd say I understand 30 to 40% of what is being said... Duolingo estimates I'm at 51% fluency right now. If you have any questions let me know.
Thank you so much! My first year of Chinese i had to study a lot of the radicals, much like what you said in order to recognize characters to help remember words and with writing chatacters, although i found that with what the radicals meant or symbolized didn't always have much to do with the character and word meaning in most cases (for example the character blue has the radical grass, i don't have the Chinese keyboard on my phone haha) so do you suggest i still focus on Learning radicals or set my priorities elsewhere?
If your focus is listening, follow my method, especially the last step. It will hide almost all text on duolingo and replace it with a Google translate TTS speech output.
I've been parroting what I listen to as well for speaking practice.
I sometimes use Baidu dictation to test my pronounciation before I write something into the app. So if the sentence is "I am a panda" I could either say "I am a panda" or "I am a hairy chest" in Chinese depending on whether or not I used the right tone :P.
If it's wrong due to tones or grammar, then I can use my chrome extension to see why I pronounced it wrong (in terms of pinyin).
I did something similar for Turkish before they implemented the speaking excercises.
edit: LISTENING not speaking. Plus the little blurb about improvising speaking excercises.