What is the best way to learn Chinese vocabulary?
China is one of the fastest-growing economies in the last 2 decades. It’s shaping entertainment, business, and even politics around the world. While there are many English speakers living in China and other Mandarin-speaking countries, you’ll find more people that do not. Besides, even if one speaks a language, there’s no sweeter sound than hearing your native tongue.
You may have mastered the basics of the Chinese language and be able to hold a simple conversation with friends about day-to-day activities and things you enjoy, but the next big step is how to improve your Chinese vocabulary to be able to converse fluently about a whole host of topics. Not everybody is lucky enough to be able to study in China in an immersive environment, but there’s still a whole host of neat things you can do to improve your Chinese vocabulary from the comfort of your own home! When investing time into learning a language, you want to see quick and consistent results. Below I’d like to share my personal method for learning Chinese vocabulary – hopefully you can find it useful or modify it to suit your needs!
Here are our 5 tips:
- Never stop reading: The top recommendation for improving vocabulary is by “阅读 (yuèdú) reading.” Reading works well for people of varying ages and interests. By reading regularly you will enhance your cognitive ability since this hobby allows for continuous learning. You don’t even have to stop and check Chinese vocabulary while reading, you can understand it according to the context, which can enrich your vocabulary immensely.
- Learn How to Use Your Chinese Vocabulary: Firstly, if you mined the words from a particular podcast or TV episode, watch it again! Use a vocabulary application to learn the meaning of all the words that you’re not able to understand. Through this technique, you’ll be able to understand the episode in Chinese and the most effective way.
- Listen to Chinese Songs: Learning through song is a brilliant way to learn any language. Just watch out in Chinese as tonal rules are often not obeyed when singing. Check out our blog of The Best Songs to Learn Chinese by HSK Level for some of our favourites!
- Review Regularly: The old phrase “Use it or Lose It” has never rung truer than when learning Chinese. Reviewing little and often helps us expand our Chinese vocabulary through the repetition of phrases and words. The brilliant thing about studying online is that the vocabulary used is often modern vocabulary that will be extremely useful when conversing with Chinese friends. Traditional textbooks often stick with traditional topics and expressions, so it never hurts to expand on this with current, trending words!
- Learn to Recognize the Chinese Characters: You should always use a character workbook over any standard notebook for the reason that the grids in character workbooks help you with ensuring each character you write is specific to the appropriate dimensions and size. After you understand each character, go through the list and write out each character 15-20 times in a character workbook according to the appropriate stroke order.
Set yourself realistic goals for Chinese vocabulary study – a small achievable aim is much more powerful than being overly optimistic and then disappointed when you can’t reach your target!