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 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: 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 :)

April 10, 2018

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!

April 11, 2018

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

April 11, 2018

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!

April 11, 2018
Learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.