Hong Tu – China Business Services – Learn Mandarin Faster by Avoiding These Mistakes

Apps for Studying ChineseHong Tu – China Business Services – Learn Mandarin Faster by Avoiding These Mistakes. Recently, I talked with someone on twitter about learning Chinese. This person was having a hard time with learning the characters and tones of words. We talked a little further and I have some thoughts about why the person was struggling.

Their Chinese Learning App Did Not Match Their Goals

The person wanted to learn the characters and tones of different vocabulary words, but was using an app called Memrise. Memrise has is a learning tool that has lessons for a variety of languages and other areas. I tried out several Chinese and two German courses. The problem with Memrise faces in regards to languages is that the design does not address the difficulty people face in learning a specific language. In Chinese, people struggle to remember the tone. In the more advanced versions, you had to type the tone in some of the time, but mastering tones requires regular and diligent practice. Memrise as it is currently set up, will not solve this problem.

What’s the lesson for you? Figure out what is hard for you and find tools that will help you solve this problem. If tones are difficult, find an app to practice tones. If it is remembering the characters, then find an app for that.

They Chose an App that Won’t Work for Their Learning Style

I suspect that this person didn’t really consider their learning style when deciding how to study. They responded well to suggestions around using finger motions to remember tones, which suggests to me that they are a kinesthetic learner. Yet the website they are using is really developed for visual learners. There was little or no writing or other physical interaction. This will not work well for someone who is a kinesthetic learner. I suggest that kinesthetic learners look into Skritter.com because it is so physical. You write out characters, push buttons selecting tones and more.

What’s the lesson for you? Take a test to learn about your learning style. Then adapt your study plan that supports your learning style. If you learn by listening, listen to podcasts. If you learn visually, make sure you have flashcards. If you can’t remember the characters and are a kinesthetic learner, consider writing them out.

Your Next Steps

You really need a plan and tools that address the both the difficulties in learning Chinese and works well with your learning style. To master Chinese, you need tools that help you learn the sounds of the words, the tones and eventually how to read (and perhaps write) the characters. This may be pen and paper or a smart phone/tablet app. Pick tools that fit your learning style. If you are a visual learner, this will be easier. The internet is a visual medium.  If you learn by doing something, pick an app that allows more interaction. If you can’t find one, then a pen and some paper may be your best bet.

Finally, use a variety of approaches as you study Chinese. If you just study with Skritter, you will get good at writing and develop a strong vocabulary, but you won’t learn how to string words together into sentences. If you just use Memrise.com, you will probably develop a strong vocabulary, but you won’t learn the tones very well. If you use Rosetta Stone, you will master the tones and learn many phrases, but you will struggle to string words and phrases into a variety of sentences. To master Mandarin quickly, get a private instructor and use tools that work for Mandarin and for you.

Hong Tu – China Business Services – This is Not the Business Strategy You Are Looking For

Hong Tu – China Business Services – This is Not the Business Strategy You are Looking For. I was talking with someone who works for a company that does business in China (PDF). We were discussing their marketing and sales strategies in China. As we discussed some of the struggles they are facing, it struck me again how complex and difficult it is for companies entering the Chinese market.

Know and Understand Your Target Market

The most common mistake companies make in China is to ignore the first rule of marketing: know and connect with your target market. When you bring your made for America marketing plan to China, you will not see the results you want to. If you don’t understand Chinese culture, your company will struggle to connect with your target market and sales will be difficult. Pieces of American marketing plans will work in China. Content marketing is designed to build a relationship and trust over time. This is a smart tactic in China; however, you need to be sure that your content strategy includes material that is culturally appropriate.

Understand Chinese History and Get Marketing and Sales Right

To succeed, you need to take time to understand Chinese history and culture. You don’t need a degree in Chinese history, but you do need to know the basics. It wouldn’t hurt to learn about the different generations in China. You would not market to someone in their 60s in the same way that you market to someone in their 20s. The same is true in China, except a 60 year old person in China is very different than a 60 year old here in the US. When American’s think about Chinese history, Tiananmen Square is often the major event. As tragic as Tiananmen Square is, it was short lived and only resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. A 60 year old man or woman, grew up during the Cultural Revolution, which lasted for 10 years and at a minimum resulted in 750,000 to 1.5 million deaths. Other estimates go as high as 3 million lives lost. Someone who is 60 today, was 13 when the cultural revolution started and 23 when it ended.

Don’t Overdo It

Companies can over do their cultural considerations and be taken advantage of. You will inevitably make a cultural faux pas in China. Chinese business negotiations are very much about situational power and any faux pas will be used against you. If you walk in feeling guilty because you’ve committed some kind of cultural sin, it will be used against you in subtle ways during business negotiations. You need to decide how to manage these issues ahead of time.

Success in China Requires Change at Home

Chinese business people strongly prefer doing business with people they know. Ideally people they have known for a long time and have developed deep trust. This not only makes sense in the China of today where laws and regulations bend for those with the right connections, it also makes sense based on Chinese culture. Traditionally, cultural norms are enforced through shaming. If you do something disrespectful or wrong, it reflects poorly on your parents and family. If you are doing business with your uncle, cheating is more than unlikely.

Chinese Do Business Relationally

We’ve described before how American business is based on transactions. We make a deal and then get to know one another while we do business together. China is the opposite most of the time. It is well documented that selling in China starts with relationships. Any marketing or sales plan should work to develop trust. To do this, you need to understand how companies build relationships and trust in China.  A part of this plan should include regular, relationship building visits by top executives at your company.

Paralysis is not a Business Strategy

Large companies have brands to protect and must balance this with adjusting their website to fit Chinese culture and sales process. Balancing the two can be difficult and companies miss the mark in one of three ways. The first real mistake is to do nothing out of fear of making a mistake. Not entering the Chinese market guarantees that your company will miss out on the largest and most important demographic trends this century.