Language Learning Tips for Chinese Newbies

Language Learning Tips for Chinese Newbies
By Yew Chung International School ,

The Yew Chung International School of Beijing’s Secondary School Chinese Curriculum Coordinator Jessica Sun Shares How to be an Effective Chinese Language Learner

For non-native speakers, learning Chinese can be a tall order even if you live in China. Big cities like Shanghai and Beijing are full of English language resources for newly-arrived expats and there is no shortage of Chinese with a decent English language base keen to practice their English with a native speaker. This makes it easy for non-Chinese speakers to avoid the daunting task of learning the local language.

However, learning the local language can be a very rewarding experience, both practically (new friends, ease of life, a greater access to delicious cuisine) and developmentally (an expanded worldview, a greater appreciation of new cultures). If you’ve just moved to China or are looking to jump-start your language learning, YCIS Beijing Secondary School Chinese Curriculum Coordinator and veteran Chinese teacher Jessica Sun have some essential tips that will make sure you’re learning the right way.

Take Risks 
Underlying every non-native speaker with great Chinese skills is dedication to one thing: practice. While it is an exercise in humility to speak a foreign language, especially when you’re just beginning, make an effort to open your mouth and speak the language at any point, even if it’s just making sure you use Chinese when buying groceries or being chatty with the locals who make your jianbing. Open-minded and curious students who are always willing to take risks will be the most successful. Get out and meet the locals if you’re truly dedicated to learning the language.

Simplifying Strokes and Radicals 
While listening and speaking is all about interacting with native speakers, writing characters is relatively self-sufficient, relying more on independent determination than interacting with other people. However, it’s vital when learning characters that you understand stroke order, the system that dictates how individual characters are written, and radicals, the different pieces that make up any individual character. While it may seem like an unnecessary hassle to the beginner student, mastering these two facets of Chinese characters will actually make your Chinese-learning life substantially easier in the long run. As the characters become increasingly complex, learning characters actually becomes easier; memorizing characters eventually becomes a matter of simply arranging already learned radicals in new positions and writing them in a different order.

Studying with friends? Students at YCIS Beijing study characters with friends to share  their ideas on how to effectively memorize specific characters. This can make the process a lot more fun, especially when devising various mnemonics to help remember each character!

Use the Right Resources 
Nowadays there are a plethora of excellent resources available online for students of any foreign language. If you’ve just arrived in Beijing, a dictionary app is essential; Pleco has been a mainstay for years and continues to be a top choice in this category.

For learning new characters, especially as a beginner, having a flashcard app that lets you trace characters with your hand is essential. At YCIS Beijing, students regularly use Quizlet, available both on desktop and mobile.

For more advanced learners, podcasts and videos are a great resource for listening and character memorization with subtitles. Students will have no problem finding videos or podcasts dedicated to their subject of interest.

If you take these recommendations to heart, we promise you’ll be learning Chinese more effectively and efficiently than ever before.

Learn more about YCIS Beijing by visiting our website


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Keywords: learning Chinese China Beijing Language Apps Chinese Teacher Chinese language


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This is quite interesting....I am eager to learn Chinese and hope that in the future I will be fluent ????

Jun 11, 2023 18:53 Report Abuse


Hello hi dear honor to meet good

Dec 10, 2022 02:06 Report Abuse


Woow this is very encouraging.

Oct 26, 2022 21:42 Report Abuse



Oct 18, 2022 05:57 Report Abuse



Sep 10, 2021 06:26 Report Abuse


hello guys . I am founding a job as a english teacher in china. how can i get. and how's it possibile to find . any one can explain me please. thanks i am in italy and i want to new experience in china. because there is a lot of oppertnities .

Sep 01, 2021 05:32 Report Abuse


Start from a survival level of Chinese.

Jul 08, 2021 06:33 Report Abuse


Memrise and Pleco. True, stroke order is essential.

Nov 23, 2017 12:40 Report Abuse


Finally broke down and bought Rosetta

Nov 11, 2017 03:20 Report Abuse


Things to keep in mind

Oct 28, 2017 02:49 Report Abuse


The only point i got inspired and agreed is the word "practice" to speak and learn English.

Oct 20, 2017 21:54 Report Abuse


being surrounded by other expats or English speaking locals doesn't help. I know a few people, who tried learning Chinese, but gave up, just because it was kindda useless to them

Mar 24, 2017 08:00 Report Abuse


Its hard but persistence is the key I guess. :)

Feb 18, 2017 03:13 Report Abuse