Studying Mandarin has become such a global phenomenon that it’s now considered one of the most important languages to learn. It’s easy to understand why. When China opened its doors to foreign trade, companies started flowing in. As a result, most international businesses have a link to China, either through clients, suppliers, or investors. So, learning Mandarin is guaranteed to boost your career. But studying this complex language comes with more benefits than getting you a promotion. China is known for having a rich and fascinating history that goes back thousands of years. Even though some of that was lost during the Cultural Revolution, there’s still plenty to visit. Naturally, knowing how to speak Mandarin opens the opportunity to discover beautiful places not found on the usual tourist routes.
Why Learn Mandarin With Language Learning Software
Language learning is a very personal experience. What works for some doesn’t necessarily work for others. This means that there isn’t a ‘correct’ way to learn Mandarin. Instead, you should try out several strategies yourself and stick with those that you prefer. However, since Mandarin is such a challenging language to master, it’s recommended to back up your plan with language learning software.
One of the main reasons you should consider using a language learning app is the course structure provided. Doing your own research to create a study plan takes time. Meanwhile, language learning software is the result of years of research to find the fastest way to reach fluency. Considering that you’ll have to learn hundreds of new characters and how to use Mandarin’s four different tones, having a structured path will help you tremendously.
But there’s more to apps than just a plan. Some language learning apps let you communicate with fellow students and native speakers through built-in chats. Others provide you with various content suggestions (movies, books, etc.) to further hone your skills. A few language learning platforms even offer certificates at the end of their courses, which will prove to a potential employer that you know the language.
Recommended Language Learning Apps for Mandarin Chinese
Mandarin Blueprint’s founders started as complete beginners like anyone else. They worked hard, became Mandarin tutors, and are now considered native speakers by the Chinese government. They then took advantage of their experience to create an innovative curriculum that speeds up the learning process. By teaching characters in a specific and efficient order and using the Hanzi Movie Method, Mandarin Blueprint makes the language easier to grasp. Plus, every exercise is created in detail to make sure you’re never out of your depth. Instead, you’ll always feel that you’re quickly progressing, which does wonders for your motivation. The best part is that you can try out Mandarin Blueprint for free for 30 days, which is enough time to complete the first phase of the course.
As an audio-based language learning platform, Pimsleur is the perfect solution to improve your listening and speaking skills. Since there are no visual aids, you’ll be focusing more on native speech, making it easier for you to mimic and improve pronunciation. Because the course is audio-based and exercises take around 30 minutes to complete, Pimsleur is great for those who want to learn a new language while multitasking or commuting. The only drawback is that this platform won’t get you to a fluent level or teach you how to write or read in Mandarin. Still, if you’re planning to travel to China and want to chat with the locals, Pimsleur is the one to get. And while there isn’t a free plan available, you can try out the first lesson at zero cost.
Mondly is one of the most engaging language learning apps on the market. The software teaches through spaced repetition, but instead of going over individual words, you start learning full sentences right away. Mondly is also great for those who want to hone their speaking skills. It allows users to hold conversations with a chatbot and evaluates if you’re saying things correctly via the built-in speech recognition software. But what makes Mondly shine the most is its AR and VR mobile apps. There’s nothing more engaging than learning how to say ‘lion’ while seeing one in your living room or by having conversations with a Chinese virtual assistant while traveling on a simulated train.
The Challenges of Learning Mandarin
There’s no way around the fact that learning Mandarin is difficult. Instead of a standard alphabet, Mandarin has around 50,000 characters. Fortunately, you don’t need to know all of them to be considered fluent. Even so, the 1,500 to 2,000 characters required are still a lot. Language learning software has come up with ways to make the memorization process faster and more engaging, including mnemonics, specific learning paths, and image association games.
But the alphabet is just the beginning. Speaking in Mandarin is also pretty challenging. You have to learn four basic pitched tones (plus a fifth neutral one) that completely change the meaning of a word. For example, in Chinese pinyin, ‘xi fu’ can mean ‘suit’ or ‘wife’ depending on the tone. This is where many Mandarin students get stuck, but language learning apps have your back. In addition to teaching you each tone and when to use them, they also explain how to move your mouth to make the right sound. Additionally, some apps come with speech recognition to make sure you’re pronouncing words correctly.
Best Ways To Learn Mandarin Online
Using language learning software will help tremendously on your journey to Mandarin fluency, but you can speed up the process with extra resources. Of course, the fastest way to learn would be to move to Beijing and become immersed in the language 24/7. Sadly, that isn’t an option for most of us. Instead, you can take advantage of streaming services to watch subtitled Chinese TV shows, such as Love O2O on Netflix, or movies, like Farewell My Concubine on Amazon Prime, to improve your listening skills and learn more about Chinese culture. Another option is to listen to free podcasts, such as 锵锵三人行 (Behind the Headlines with Wentao) or 静雅思听 (Justing). Finally, we recommend adding a pop-up dictionary – like Zhongwen – to your browser to get character definitions and translations on the spot.