Content x Method x Time = Improvement in Proficiency
Remember this equation if you intend to learn Chinese in Singapore, or for that matter, any other new language. You can improve your proficiency in a foreign language by picking the right content, studying the right way, and investing sufficient amount of time.
Note you need all three—only two will not do. For instance, the right content and a good method will prove useless if you study for just 15 minutes every day. Similarly, you won’t make a lot of progress in spite of studying Chinese for an hour daily if you pick the wrong things to learn. For optimal results, all three must be included.
Now, let’s discuss all three in some detail.
When it comes to language learning, probably no other area is more overlooked than content. Spoken language vocabulary frequency analysis shows one can speak a language quite effectively if he or she knows the right kinds of words—and this is no less true for other skills.
Here’s an example: learning 3000 characters, as well as all the common words linked with them, will significantly improve your proficiency in Chinese, provided you pick the right 3000 characters.
However, if you only focus on frequency, you might run into a problem: most frequency analysis are for written—and not spoken—language and many a time high-frequency words of written language are not used so frequently in spoken language.
This is the most obvious factor, but it’s no less important than two. If anything, it’s the most important of the three. You will surely learn something even if your content and learning method is not so great. However, not even the best content and learning method can prove beneficial, if you don’t spend any time learning Chinese.
Time is directly related to motivation. Therefore, if you are not putting in enough time learning Chinese, you should probably ask yourself the question which you should have asked earlier: why it is important for you to learn Chinese?
When Mark Zuckerberg addressed the audience at Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2014, everyone was astounded. But not many know that, prior to his speech, Mark studied Chinese for 4 hours every day. The point is you will get results according to the efforts you put in. If you want to improve proficiency in Chinese quickly, study more.
Method refers to how to learn characters, pronunciation, grammar, characters, and other things. The method is important for learning efficiently and students can do many things to improve their proficiency in Chinese fast.
With that said, as a beginner, you might want to focus on the time factor most. Allot some time from your daily schedule to learning and practicing Chinese. Later on, you can start focusing more on content and method.