Chinese Language Learning Tips and Tools: For language students of all levels

Chinese is called a “critical language” by the US government and academia: a language for which these is a large demand for language professionals by little supply. As the official language of Chinese schools, in 2000 there were an estimated 840 million first-language speakers plus 178 million second-language speakers. Considering roughly 1 out 6 people in the world speak Chinese and China is a huge market for economic growth, career opportunities for Chinese linguists can be found in almost any field. More and more American students are turning to Chinese over French and Spanish.

OneWorld Now! Chinese Language Instructor Sun Burford recommends six helpful tools for students of Chinese that are good for beginners to advanced speakers:

Resource #1: Vocaroo

Vocaroo is an online voice recorder. It is a quick and easy way to practice and share voice messages over the internet. Record yourself speaking in Chinese and then play it back to check your pronunciation or email to your teacher to check.

Resource #2: Quizlet

Quizlet has simple and free learning tools for students and teachers. You can access Chinese lessons from schools around the world. Quizlet’s flashcards, tests and study games make learning Chinese fun and engaging for all ages.

Resource #3: Chinesepod

Learn Mandarin Chinese online with ChinesePod using situational dialogues. Personalize your learning with practical language. Lessons are available for beginner to advanced students. Tune in to their cultural shows to learn about every day life in China.

Resource #4: Yabla

Yabla’s language immersion web site gives you authentic television, music videos, drama, interviews, travel, and Yabla exclusive shoots from China.  Its unique player technology is designed with language learners in mind: Slow Play, Integrated Dictionaries, Listening Game, Dual Language Subtitles, and more.

Resource #5: MDBG online tools

MDBG not only provides a Chinese-English dictionary, but also provides variety of tools for learning Chinese such as word and character dictionaries, radical and stroke guides, translate, practice, and more.

Resource #6: Idioms

Explore and understand idiomatic expressions in Chinese. All languages use them! They make learning fun and gave you insight into the culture. Chinese is very rich in such expressions.

Here are a few from Fluentu and more can be found on their blog:

  •  理所当然 (lǐ suǒ dāng rán) – 理所当然 sounds like “to go without saying” or “as a matter of course,” but literally means that “according to reason, it should be the case.” Here’s an example: “Some things which are obvious or natural in the course of a marriage…”   “。。。在婚姻中的一些~的事。。。”   “。。。zài hūnyīn zhōng de yīxiē ~de shì 。。。”
  • 全力以赴 (quán lì yǐ fù) – 全力以赴 basically means to give it your all (literally “exert all your strength”) for a goal. It has a positive tone, and is somewhat formal but can still be used in everyday speech. It’s important to note that 全力以赴 is typically used for actions that haven’t finished yet, rather than actions that have already been completed. Here’s an example: “无论考生的笔试成绩如何,都要全力以赴准备面试”   “wúlùn kǎoshēng de bǐshì chéngjì rúhé ,dōuyào quánlìyǐfù zhǔnbèi miànshì”   “No matter how the student’s written test score is, he/she needs to give 100% to prepare for the interview”

By Sun Burford, Chinese Language Instructor

About Sun Burford:  Ms. Burford (Sun Laoshi) is a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese. She holds a BA in Chinese language and literature from China and an MA in Education in the U.S. Sun has over 18 years of professional teaching experience and has worked with OneWorld Now! for the past 11 years. She has also taught in 8 STARTALK OneWorld Now! summer camps and has been a teacher-trainer in Concordia College’s Concordia Language Villages teacher programs. Her classroom teaching video has been featured in the STARTALK Classroom Video Collection. As a certified educator, she is a full-time teacher and a course leader in a local School District. She is actively involved in the field of world language teaching. She has mentored student teachers, and serves on the Ed. Advisory Board of CIWA (Confucius Institute of the State of Washington). Ms. Burford has given presentations at several conferences regionally and nationally. She enjoys travel, cuisine, music, etc.


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