Posted by Grace Feng on November 20, 2011
Hi everyone, my name is Grace. I’m here to help you learn Chinese language. I truly believe you could progress much faster if you have a sincere friend to help you. Let’s work hard together … and have fun together! Chinese language is not rocket science, learning it is an exciting adventure into a new eastern world.
I’ve seen so many educational web sites that teach online mandarin Chinese in a way that is so hard to follow if you don’t have any background in the language. Especially for people that come from an alphabetic language mother tongue. In my blog, I’ll try all my best to lead you through the journey of mandarin Chinese language learning even for people that have zero knowledge of the language. Based on your level, you can move faster or slower on the lessons. But one thing you’ll be assured of at least – you’ll be able to follow.
Another thing you need to know is that the whole mandarin Chinese lesson series is FREE! And will stay FREE forever! That’s my intention and my promise. The lessons start from beginner level towards advanced level.
First of all, may I ask a simple question? What is Chinese?
Don’t laugh. The reason I ask is because that is the most important thing you need to understand before you start. Especially for those of alphabetic language background, you need to know the answer to be able to switch your mindset to Chinese while you’re studying it.
Now, let me explain:
Chinese is a language that is built on characters, instead of alphabet. Chinese characters are a big group of mini pictures that have single-syllable sound each. Two or more characters combine together into words or phrases. These words and phrases in turn form sentences.
Please remember, some characters are words themselves!
Then, you might want to ask: “Exactly how many Chinese characters in total?” Honestly, it’s close to 90,000, but you don’t need to know that many characters simply because most of them are obsolete and even native Chinese don’t need to know them. For a well educated native Chinese speaker, like me ( :-) ), the total I know that I thoroughly counted from online dictionary is only about 3800. According to the published numbers by Chinese government, frequently used Chinese characters are about 2000. There are another 1500 were quoted as “less frequently used” characters. So to add up, the total of “currently used characters” are about 3500. The rest of the 90,000, are all obsolete, or close-to-obsolete.
When you start your Chinese learning, I’d suggest you to set up a few milestones on your vocabulary progress, such as 500, 1000, 1500 and so on and so forth. You could always work your way up to the level of a native speaker one day.
Don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need to remember the exact strokes of each character. Being able to recognize them (they’re pictures, aren’t they?), being able to pronounce them should be sufficient for you to use them freely via speaking, reading and writing. By “writing”, I mean typing on computer or digital devices.
If you’re wondering about conjugation rules, tense changes etc. of those characters. Then be rest assured that there’s no such needs.
No change of forms for Chinese characters! Period.
Now let’s have the very first Chinese sentence to get started. I’ll repeat three times from slow to normal speed in the recording. Translation of each character and word follows:
wǒ ài Zhōng wén
I love Chinese language.
|我 (I)||爱 (love)|
Please repeat with the recording for at least 10 times. Try your best to follow the tones. Have you notice the letters on top of each character in the table? They are “pinyin”. Just like International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in English. They are symbols to help you pronounce. The little “ ˇ ” “ ˋ ” on top of them are the “famous” tones. There are five of them:
|First tone||Second tone||Third tone||Forth tone||Fifth tone|
They are not difficult, believe me. If 1.3 billion Chinese can learn it, you can too :-)
“我”needs 7 strokes to write it out. It’s not a very simple Chinese character, but is definitely among the highest frequency characters. Get a pen and paper now, and write the character on the paper for five times. You might not be able to remember how to write it tomorrow, but you have to be able to recognize it from now on (at least that’s my requirement for you to follow through the whole lesson series). “爱” is the Chinese word for “love”. “中 文” means “Chinese language”. Please do the same practice to “爱”, “中”and “文” as well. You can copy and paste each character into the small blue edit box below and press ENTER. You will see the stroke order from the big mesh box:
Are you done with your writing practice?
Yes? Good job. Now look at the following pictures. Can you recognize the four characters you just learned without looking back? Try…
If you are able to recognize them all, you’re on the right track. Otherwise, please go back to practice more. I’ll explain more on how to memorize the look of characters in the lessons to come.
Remember, being able to recognize them is your key goal!
Now, let’s learn how to type them. Typing them out has become a necessity if you need to communicate in Chinese using today’s digital ways. It’s also an alternative if you can’t write them out by hand. All the prerequisite you need for typing a Chinese character is to know how it pronounces and how it looks. Now click on the follow link: http://www.chinese-tools.com/tools/ime.html. It’ll open a new window to a free online Chinese input tool site. Bookmark this site please.
In the big input area, type in “wo” in the box. Right away you’ll see a list of Chinese characters appear in the right column. Did you see “我” as numbered 1? Type “1”, then you’ll see “我”appear in the input area where your mouse was. Use the same methods to type in “爱”. When you type “中文”, type the pinyin of the whole word. Before you finish typing the whole pinyin, you might already be able to see “ 中文”displayed in the list. Type the number of that word, then add a period to the end of your last character.
Very well now, you’ve typed out the whole sentence! You can copy the sentence to wherever you want.
This is the very first lesson for you to warm up on your learning journey. I urge you to repeat after the recording for as many times as you could. Keep practicing and memorizing. That’s the fastest path to grasp a language.
When we meet in our next lesson, I assume you’ve already known these four characters.
See you next time!
Category: JLC Chinese grammar lessons
Tags: Chinese character, Chinese language, Chinese sentence patterns, how to speak Chinese, how to write in Chinese, JLC Chinese grammar lessons, learn Chinese blog, learn Chinese online, learn Chinese online FREE, mandarin Chinese, mandarin Chinese language, online Chinese input, teach online
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