4 Ways to Expand Your Chinese Vocabulary


Many foreigners living in Singapore ask this question: Apart from attending Mandarin classes, what can I do to expand my Chinese Vocabulary?

Vocabulary plays an important role in learning a new language—and Chinese is no exception. Of course, attending regular classes is essential, but it alone might not prove sufficient. Here are 4 smart ways in which you can improve your Chinese vocabulary fast.

Use Chinese Vocabulary Trees

A vocabulary tree is an interesting way to grow your Chinese vocabulary. The easiest way to use it is by starting with a topic that interests you. For instance, if you are a sports lover, you can pick sports as the topic.

Write the main topic (which in the above case would be “sports”) in the center of a sheet. Next, draw branches from your main topic and give each branch a suitable title. Carrying on with the above example, you can give one of your branches the title of “球拍” (Qiúpāi or racket in English).

You can further extend your vocabulary tree by creating sub-branches under each branch and so forth. For example, under the sub-branch “球拍” (Qiúpāi or racket in English), you can write different sports in which a racket is used for playing. If you wish to use a word that you’ve not learned yet, check it out in a dictionary. Use a latest dictionary with phonetics. This will help you create themed vocabulary lists, which are much easier to review.

Use Vocabulary Flashcards

Vocabulary flashcards are another smart way to grow your Chinese vocabulary. You should try to create flashcards yourselves. This will ensure your greater engagement and you would be likely to remember the words better.

However, if you don’t have the time to create your own flashcards, consider buying them. Using purchased flashcards are many times better than not using them altogether. Flashcards help you understand the structure of Chinese characters, besides helping you recognize the voice of different characters.

Reading Text Written in Chinese Aloud

In addition to visually processing the Chinese words, it is important that your auditory memory becomes familiar with and starts remembering the sound they make. You can achieve this by reading Chinese words aloud. Spend a few minutes every day reading Chinese newspapers, magazines, and books. This will help you understand how words are used differently in different contexts. You will also learn new words this way. If you are having trouble staying motivated for your daily Chinese reading session, pick subjects that interest you most.

Watch Chinese Movies

Are you a movie buff? Enjoy your favorite past-time and learn Chinese in the bargain. You are sure to pick new words as you watch movies. You will also learn to construct grammatically correct sentences, besides picking up different tones which will help you improve your accent.

Lastly, remember, while each of these tips helps you improve your Chinese vocabulary, much depends on your practice. If you are seriously considering to learn Chinese in Singapore, you must make it a point to learn a few words every day.

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