Top 4 Questions Frequently Asked by Chinese Learners

Am I using the right method to learn? What am I doing wrong? What’s the best way to speak Chinese? As a Chinese learner, you might have lots of questions regarding the language and the best way to learn it. We’ve picked 4 of the most frequently asked questions and answered them so you know what and how to learn. Whether you’ve just started learning Chinese or have been learning for a little while, you’ve certainly wondered about one of these questions at some point.

Chinese characters

1. Do I really need to learn Chinese characters if I know pinyin?

At Ninchanese, we believe pinyin and characters are not two different languages. Both of them form one language and they can’t be split up. Pinyin is, actually, the phonetic transcription of Chinese words and characters. What will you do if you go to the restaurant and you’ve only learned pinyin? You won’t be able to read the menu, except if you can point at the pictures, because pinyin won’t be written on it. Same goes for real life in China, from street signs to newspapers, you won’t find any pinyin on them. So if you want to read, learning characters is a good idea.

2. What’s the best way to learn Chinese tones?

To learn Chinese tones, you need to train your ears to hear them. Listen to Chinese people speaking and try to repeat after them. Each time you learn a new word, listen to its pronunciation and try to pronounce it several times to make sure you remember it. Create mnemonics if you need to, but learn words, pinyin and tones together as a single concept. To perfect your Chinese tones, listen to Chinese songs, movies or TV shows to help you get them right. Don’t forget to repeat the words you hear. Train your ears and your mouth will do the rest.

3. How do I get a Chinese keyboard on my computer?

You can add languages to the input method editor (IME) of your computer. Check the language section in the settings and add the Chinese language. Then all you have to do to change the language when typing is to click on the language button below, as in the following picture:

Then all you have to do is to type the pinyin of the characters and the IME will suggest choices to you, like so:

See? That’s really easy! You can also find many online keyboards like Lexilogos to help you write in Chinese if you don’t want to install the language on your computer. Ninchanese also has a Chinese keyboard you can use to type in Chinese.

4. What’s the HSK?

The HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi), also called the Chinese proficiency test, is an international exams for non-native Chinese to test their language skills. There are 6 levels, two beginner ones, two intermediate levels and two for advanced Chinese learners. In each level, there’s a number of words and grammar rules to know. Once you pass a level of this language test, you are awarded a diploma you can use to certify their level in Chinese whether if it’s for a job or studies.


Created by three language lovers, Ninchanese is a fun and innovative web application to learn Chinese, built for beginners and advanced learners alike. You use a fun coaching method to learn how to speak, understand, read and write in Chinese and use scientifically-proven techniques to boost your Chinese skills and make you feel more confident.

At Ninchanese, their #1 mission is to help them stop thinking Chinese is a difficult language and they love answering questions Chinese learners might have. Download their free ebook to learn the best way to get started learning Chinese. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Instagram.

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