China has grown to become one of the world’s superpower. It has great innovations, numerous job opportunities and is a hotbed for business people to invest and learn from them. However, for those interested in joining this superpower to learn from them or make a living, language can be a barrier. If you intend to settle in this country, then you will need to work your way around the Chinese language.
You will rely on interpreters and sign language for a few months, but these are not a reliable way to communicate. Sign language, for instance, may be misinterpreted and land you in trouble with the Chinese natives. Interpreters, on the other hand, will not always get the message across as you expect. There is the risk of getting it distorted. If you have plans of settling in a Chinese speaking country, or you’ve already settled, it is wise to learn the basics at the very least. For more in-depth information on the Chinese language, you can read our guide on it.
Chinese has multiple dialects
What makes Chinese difficult for the immigrants and other foreigners are the numerous dialects that represent it. Where you expect to handle one language, you will encounter several of them. Once you enrol for your singapore mandarin course, you will have about eight linguistic groups that have other numerous dialects to tackle.
You don’t need to learn all the dialects immediately. Such a direction will leave you confused and push you to drop out of the course. Decide why you want to learn the language and choose the right dialect. For instance, if you are enrolling in one of the Mandarin classes Singapore has to offer, go for the formal dialect. If you wish to travel to any of the places in southern China, Cantonese will be the right dialect.
Improve your listening and speaking skills
At a beginner’s stage, the focus should be on listening and speaking. The only way to learn a language is through speaking it. Interact with the natives and listen how they talk then try to mimic them. You will realise the way you pronounce words matters in the language. Some of the areas you emphasise on will determine the meaning of a word or sentence. You will make mistakes, but that should encourage you to get it right. Forget about the desire to write at that early stage. You will get there at the advanced stages of your learning.
Intonation is crucial
Once you have a way around the language and you can speak a word or two or converse in it, the next step is the intonation. Soon you will learn that Chinese languages are all about intonation. Mandarin being the most popular language in China, you will encounter four types of tones. The outcome of the tone will determine the meaning. Get it right with these intonations and learning the Chinese language will be a walk in the park.
These tones are:
- A level and relatively high tone
- The second is a rising tone; you start from a low pitch then end with a relatively high one
- Then the falling-rising; here you start with a neutral one, dip then finish with a high pitch
- The falling tone; start at a high, neutral then finally but very sharply and strongly go down.
There are approximately 50,000 Chinese characters! Don’t be scared. Even the educated people in this language do not know all these characters. This, however, does not mean you should not put any effort to learn the language. Just like the way intonation will help you to converse in Chinese, the characters will make it easy for you to write. After all, that’s the essence of learning a language; reading and writing. Therefore, you will require learning from around 2000 to 3000 characters to give you the necessary skills to write in Chinese. You will not learn these in a day. Slowly and over time you will get the characters right.
If you have the right push to study Chinese, start it right away. You will require studying it for over a year and spend numerous hours learning the Mandarin language before you plunge into the language with authority. Don’t walk the journey alone. Get people who will give you the motivation to learn and have fun while doing it.