So, I’ve started learning Chinese, finally. While progress is slow, I’ve found a few things and tricks that might be worth sharing.
For one, it helps (me) to learn characters by using index cards. If you are using the default Chinese language textbook (administered and supplied by the Chinese government as far as I can tell), then you may find these PDFs helpful, which list all the characters (and their translations and Pinyin romanization).
- First book: Characters, Characters Errata, English, English Errata
- Second book: Characters, English, Errata 1, Errata 2
Index cards are easy to create from these PDFs: Just print the PDFs, cut out the characters and translations individually, put them onto a long drawn-out strip of clear tape, cut the tape by character or translations, and tape this onto the index cards. I like to flip them over the long side, but of course that’s up to you. You may just want to make sure you tape the cut-outs one way consistently so that you can always flip long or short side, as you please. This process makes for nice and sturdy cards.
Then, I like watching CCTV (Chinese Culture TV, not closed circuit TV…) which you can find on YouTube. I’m talking about the “Learning Happy Mandarin” channel of CCTV. It is pretty silly but then enjoyable stories. (Most Chinese TV is silly, to be honest, which is also one of my biggest problems with learning Chinese—little of interest to watch.)
Finally, I’ve found Google Translate to be of immense help when checking and correcting my own (home) work. It provides (simple) translations, both ways, accepts typed Chinese characters, and even spells out the Pinyin to you! I’ve found it particularly helpful to figure out tones, which are still the hardest of all things for me to remember correctly.