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recommend learning materials


Im a complete and utter novice when it comes to Chinese, if any of you caught the post i wrote quite a long time ago you will know that Chinese really makes my head spin in circles! When i think of it Chinese really instils quite a bit of fear into my heart! it appears so incredibly daunting with thousands of seemingly illogical squiggles with no reason to them. So basically i wondered if anyone could recommend a really good text book to me that really explains and teaches well i may get multiple text books but if someone could advise me in my decision it would be much appreciated- as over the summer i plan to sit down and try and just crack the surface of this monster of a language and try and gain some insight into it ! ( sorry if it sounds like im slating an entire language but to a native English person Chinese does ever so slightly make me quake in my boots!)


April 10, 2018



I learned Mandarin as a native English speaker back when the internet was still tied to the phone line, so I didn't have the luxury of apps or websites to help (I know you said textbook, but I lump that into the same category). I took a crash course through a local group and then moved to smack dab in the middle of Chinatown in Toronto, CA. The crash course didn't help much.

But how I learned was very similar to the way the Duolingo lessons are structured. Sort of. Before I was allowed to study phrases, words, etc., a roomate of mine strongly suggested I spend an entire month focused only on pronunciation. I had a list of all of the possible iterations of vowels and consonants from which he taught me the pronunciation of each one. I then practiced nothing but each iteration, in all four tones, over and over until I was blue in the face. "a a a a, ai ai ai ai, an an an an," over and over. But that made all the difference in the world. Only then did I move to learning "Hello, what's your name," and the like. I didn't even touch reading/writing characters until about a year after I started. And really, with Duolingo you can pretty much get away with just tapping the characters and matching the sound with the pinyin.

TLDR: if you want a killer accent (i.e. no accent), then go to http://www.uvm.edu/~chinese/pinyin.htm and go through the list of combinations and do your best to mimic the sounds you hear there.

Making sense of the characters: learn the radicals. Each has a meaning which will help you (start) to make sense of why all those squiggles ended up the way they did. This is a good site: https://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/radicals.php. As you start to learn characters, you'll start to recognize the radicals and then be able to see how like items share radicals.

Hope that's helpful :)


Thank you so much for your insightful in depth reply i was really interested in the website you linked with all the radicals ! i became very interested in learning the origins behind the characters! i hope that if i maintain my strength and focus i will start to crack the surface and appreciate Chinese more from a different perspective just like with Korean after a while learning something its really cool to be able to understand it slightly with a knowledgeable perspective. Rather than with a confused and scared outlook on them!


没关系。 慢慢走吧。 No problem. Just take a little bit at a time ("slow slow walk")


Thanks for the recommendations the integrated Chinese book looks good but i think il have to get saving for a while as its quite expensive!

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