Hong 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.