Mandarin Chinese Pinyin Chart
Are Chinese Characters a Barrier To Fluency?

“Yeah, I’m studying Chinese…I mean, obviously I’m not going to bother with the characters, who needs that?”

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Rote Learning Sucks

Wanting to learn Chinese and knowing what to do to actually acquire it are not actually all that related. A desire is great. A desire motivates. A desire feels good to achieve…but it does very little to actually clarify the path to fulfilling it. This is why so many people fall back into the old habit of “Rote Learning”, i.e. doing something over and over until it is memorized.

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Grammar Point: For a Moment

In Mandarin, anytime you wish to express that an action taking place will happen “for a moment” or “briefly, you can add “一下” yí xià after the verb. This also softens the tone a little bit, making it more polite.

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Staying Motivated As a Chinese Beginner

Why does your phone still make a camera shutter sound when you snap a photo? There is no shutter. No sound is necessary whatsoever to take a picture with a phone. And yet, the sound is artificially added on top. People just couldn’t stand not hearing it.

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Conversation Connectors: 我不得不说, 我告诉你,我跟你说

“Conversation Connectors” are very useful in Chinese when you are looking for something to say and need to give yourself time to think it through.

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Fear of Speaking: The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

I really hate the idea of perfection. Perfection is boring. Mistakes are fun, and you can just laugh them off, and remind yourself what an interesting thing it is to use this weird meat computer in our skull to try and solve things.

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An Easy Way to Approach "了"

“了” (le5) is one of the most common grammatical particles in Chinese, and in certain rare usages Chinese scholars are still debating about how to define it.

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Where Does Memory Exist in the Brain?

It goes without saying that memory is massively instrumental in the acquisition of language. There is simply quite a lot to remember, and in Chinese you also have this whole annoying “writing system” to try to keep in the old meat computer hard drive. 真烦!

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How Many Characters Do I Need to Learn?

Everybody often quite reasonably asks, to be fluent in Chinese, how many characters do I have to learn? (Some even ask “do I even need to learn characters?”, but we’ll address that in a future article)

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