General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

How should I learn Mandarin?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9108 points ) June 12th, 2011

So, I have been taking a Mango language class through my local library. I thought I was picking up the correct pronunciation!?

Well, when I try my new skill on a Chinese person, I am very courteously corrected for my mispronunciation which I welcome with fervor.

I walk away confident that I am now ready to try again. When I do, on a new victim(because it is surely nails on a chalkboard), I speak in the way suggested by the prior native speaker.

Strangely it seems I am corrected each time. To my great confusion I have found myself in the middle of an argument between dialects.

What is to be done? I am resolute on learning Mandarin very proficiently. (Dating a chinese girl is not in the tea leaves, and was already suggested)

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6 Answers

asmonet's avatar

I would suggest watching as much Mandarin Language news and media. Anything with voiceovers, narration. Most likely they’ll be speaking whatever accent / dialect is a standard and you can help yourself.

nekoticoh's avatar

watching chinese movies or TV shows.

lifeflame's avatar

The tones are tough to pick up, so I’m not surprised if you keep getting corrected. Most beginners have to go through this. Remember, it’s not just the word, but you have to nail the relative pitch too.

Most people should be teaching you standard Putonghua. There might be regional slang, but the four tones should be pretty consistent.

The_Idler's avatar

yeah the tones are insane. be thankful you didn’t decide on Cantonese though! =P
Every time I got in a taxi in Canton, I spent more time talking to the driver, repeating the name of the place over and over, with all possible combinations of tones, than I did in actual transit!

I find them near impossible to explain, so I can only suggest immersing yourself to whatever degree possible. Going and staying in Beijing will be very useful (and fun), and you’ll never learn it to a useful level without living in China for a while.

You could also try and join some kind of Chinese society? I’m a member of ChiSoc at my university, and we run our own socials and outings, as well as collaborating with other Chinese/East Asian societies for larger events. Obviously, there is plenty of Chinese language to be spoken, Chinese food to be eaten, and Chinese culture to discuss. Most of the ChiSoc here speak Cantonese, however, as they’re generally from Hong Kong (it being a British colony).

Otherwise, yeah, movies it is, I’ve never seen any Mandarin movies, so I cannot advise.

Good luck! and if you hate the tones as much as I did, there’s always Japanese =P

The_Inquisitor's avatar

Become friends with some native Mandarin speakers, and practice with them.

Watch some mandarin dramas with english subtitles (they’re lengthy, with many episodes, yet interesting as well!).

Travel to China.

Oh, understand the 4 tones.

practice practice practice!

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