7 Ways to Learn Chinese For People With No Chinese Speaking Friends
You want to learn Chinese to make Chinese-speaking friends, but you can’t practice your Chinese if you don’t have friends who speak Chinese! Or maybe you just want to improve your Chinese when you’re on your own. Either way, you’re going to love these 7 ways to learn Chinese on your own.
1. Watch Chinese TV and movies
All the best speakers of English as a second language I have met mastered their language skills by watching sitcoms! Friends, Seinfeld, How I met your Mother, etc. You can use the same strategy to learn Chinese. Just look up Netflix Chinese TV shows and there’s an entire page dedicated to it. My favorite Chinese show on Netflix is Meteor Garden. If you don’t have Netflix, there are many free options to watch TV in Chinese online. In fact, there’s a list for you right here.
2. Read Chinese with help when you need it
Reading Chinese is a great way to expand your vocabulary, build confidence and increase your communication skills! There are tools you can use to make the process easy and enjoyable. Graded readers are stories written for specific reading levels with help on difficult words. You can also use a Chinese reading practice app that gives you access to pinyin and translations as needed. Rather than trying to read difficult passages, try to read simple stories for enjoyment so that you can improve in a natural, enjoyable way.
3. Listen to music
Chinese music is becoming more popular around the globe and there is every type and genre you could want. I’m a big fan of rap music and one of my favorite Chinese rappers is MC Hotdog. His name sounds ridiculous, but his music is awesome. Full disclosure: some of his songs can be pretty vulgar. Spotify and Apple both have lists of top Chinese songs or top songs in China. You can also look at the top Chinese songs on YouTube and find some great ones. The repetition of words you’ll hear can help you learn quickly. It’s also a fun way to expose yourself more to the culture.
4. Fill your “dead” time
Flashcards. Hate them or love them, they can be super effective. When you’re standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for the bus or just have a few minutes you can review Chinese words. I like to study flashcards around words that come up in my reading practice so they are immediately relevant. One way to do this is by studying based on HSK level and then looking for reading practice at your current HSK level.
5. Set goals
Every once in a while I look back and think: If I just learned “x” number of characters a day starting two years ago, I would know so many characters now. Incremental progress is powerful. If you had started memorizing 5 characters a day two years ago, you would know well over 3000 new characters now! (I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t do that.) Setting daily or weekly goals will get you dramatic improvements before you know it.
6. Join a community
I think every social media platform has a Chinese language learning group or community on it somehow. I know that Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn all have them. On TikTok you can find Chinese speakers easily. On Twitter there are plenty of people tweeting about learning Chinese. Involve yourself in one of these communities and you can access the social aspect of language learning. I’m a big fan of the Facebook groups. If you get stuck on something and have a question they can be a great resource.
7. Focus on what you enjoy
Whatever you decide to do to learn Chinese, focus on what you enjoy. Focus on why you’re learning Chinese. Do more of what you love! I hope that learning Chinese is something you can enjoy your whole life. With so many different ways to practice Chinese, you can have a lot of fun even without any Chinese friends.
About the author
Ray loves life. He also loves surfing, cooking, traveling and of course: Chinese. He’s lived in China, Taiwan, Italy and the U.S. He’s a part of the team at Du Chinese and hopes to help everyone enjoy reading in Chinese.