Years back Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, gave a speech in Mandarin Chinese in Beijing. While Mark’s aim in doing so was to win the hearts of Chinese people and establishment. He certainly achieved that… but that’s not all he achieved.
He was able to do one more thing (which probably wasn’t even in the back of his mind): he showed one can learn Chinese. Mark Zuckerberg is a busy person; he ought to be, after all he runs Facebook. If he can learn Chinese, others can do it as well.
If you are thinking of learning Chinese in Singapore, the first thing you must do, even before you join a language program, is stop being overawed by it. Yes, Chinese is not an easy language to learn, but at the same time it is no Mt. Everest. Hell, it is not even Mt. Blanc. So stop worrying about yourself to death whether you’ll be able to learn it or not.
Here are a few tips to help you keep on the right track:
Negativity has never helped anyone achieve anything worthwhile. So why carry it with you when you start learning Chinese. Chuck it away, far away, and start the learning process with a positive frame of mind.
Many foreigners feel intimidated by four tones of Chinese language. In the beginning, mind you only in the beginning, this is normal because Chinese is a tonal language while English and other European languages are not. However, thinking on the lines that you can’t learn Chinese because it has so many tones is wrong and self-defeating.
The truth of the matter is that tones are not limiting. It is your attitude that’s limiting.
There’s no substitute for hard work
To learn a new language, more so Chinese which is so different from English, you require hard work and persistence. Mark Zuckerberg practiced Chinese everyday for several years before he could achieve enough fluency to give a speech in it. If you practice the language an hour or two every day, there’s no reason why you too can’t gain fluency in it. However, keep in mind that quality of your practice is more important than quantity, so don’t pick the later over the former.
Form a language group
It is possible that you might be conscious of speaking in Chinese in front of native speakers. Well, this is normal in the beginning. However, speaking in Chinese publicly gives you a chance to practice it, receive valuable feedback, and make improvements. Therefore, if you feel shy speaking in front of natives, form a language group with your classmates. You will not feel embarrassed about speaking in Mandarin Chinese in front of other foreigners taking a part in the same Mandarin Classes in Singapore as you.
Use vocabulary tree
A vocabulary tree is a smart way to learn new words every day. Take a big sheet of paper and list a topic of your choice in the middle of it. You can pick any topic that you like. Create branches by listing relevant subtopics under the main topic. For instance ‘sports’ can be your main topic, with ‘bat’, ‘running’, ‘ball’ etc. as subtopics. Everyday add new relevant words under different branches to expand your vocabulary tree.