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How should I start learning Mandarin

I know the alphabet in Pinyin and that's it. I'm stuck/confused a little. The symbols used in Chinese are they pictograms? I Started Korean on here because a friend was wanting to learn it. So far it's not to bad, but with Duolingo it makes learning easier for me. I don't know what youtube videos to start with in learning how to read and write. Learning through reading is hard for me so Youtube and Duolingo makes it easier. I'm currently waiting for Duolingo to get Mandarin, but I want a headstart. Could anyone give advice. Thanks.

November 11, 2017



Try this site until the Duolingo course comes out. It covers pinyin, characters (simplified and traditional), phrases, vocabulary, and everything else you would need to learn Mandarin Chinese.


The symbols used in Chinese are they pictograms?

Yes! But also no... It's kinda complicated...

In essence, there are four kinds of characters.

The first time is pictograms. They (at least sorta) look like the word they mean. 木 means tree, 日 means sun, 火 means fire, 山 means mountain, and 口 means mouth.

Then there are ideograms, which embody abstract concepts. 三 means three, 上 means up, and 下 means down.

Then there are compound ideograms, which use a combination of characters to embody an abstract concept. 明, which is made up of 日 meaning sun and 月 meaning moon, means bright.

Then there's the fourth type, which are ideo-phonetic. It's a bit difficult to explain, but it works like this: 媽, meaning mother, is made up of 女, meaning woman, and 馬, meaning horse. While the 馬 part doesn't have anything to do with the meaning of the word, that part on its own is pronounced "mǎ," while 媽 as a whole is pronounced "mā," so the 女 part tells you that it has something to do with women, and the 馬 part tells you that it sounds like the word for horse. Thus, we get mā, meaning mother. Granted, this system isn't very helpful to a learner of the language at first, but I think it gets a bit easier as you go on.


Honestly, Thank you so much. This is the main thing I've been looking for. Don't completely understand which is fine, but it does however help me look at it different and understand a little. Just need to read up more on Ideograms etc. Thank you. Means a lot.


Huh, I didn't realise that you could actually partly tell the sound of some words from the symbol! Knowing this might help me, even if I'm firmly at the beginner stage in my classes.

Looking forward to the Duolingo course, though!


The course is being released next week. I'm excited but I don't know if I'm going to learn it.


Yes, Chinese use characters, not letters. And yes, Chinese is hard. The course should be released in a few days. I'm an Alpha tester of the Chinese course. I can't give you any details but I'm sure that people will appreciate the course.


Thanks for your response. =)


You should... watch films for the children! You can read books in chineese . But , when the chineese course will be availible , it will be good for you.

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