7 Tips to Improve Your Chinese Right Now

Since the pandemic, many of us seem to have a bit more time on our hands. No wonder Netflix has added 15.77 million new customers during the COVID-19 lockdown! But as luring as it may be, endless binging on Netflix won’t make you feel that productive. On the other hand, learning Chinese will make you feel like you’re actually doing something worthwhile and stimulate your brain in ways Tiger King just can’t.
So here are 7 tips on how to use your time throughout the days/weeks/months(?) ahead to learn and continue improving your Mandarin language skills!

#1 - Read Something in Chinese


Just to be clear, we’re not suggesting you start reading Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China in Chinese just yet (although you can check out the English version on Amazon here). But it’s a good idea to try to read a little Chinese each day, wherever you can find it. You might want to try installing some Chinese reading apps on your smartphone or tablet. You can try surfing baidu.com and see what sticks. Below are a few websites where you can download some e-books to get started:
If you’re beginning your journey of learning Chinese characters, you might also want to check out our blog post on how to get started with Chinese characters.

#2 - Watch a Chinese Movie or Drama

Truth be told, we admit that Netflix can be good for some things. Using Netflix, YouTube or any other streaming service can be a great way to improve your Chinese while sitting on the couch. This learning process works because it helps combine listening material with visuals, provides insight into Chinese pop culture and ultimately it gives you a taste of what spoken Chinese looks like in real-life situations. Here are 6 great Chinese dramas you can watch on Netflix now. And if Netflix isn’t your thing, read this blog post about how to watch Chinese for free on YouTube.

#3 - Make a Chinese Friend IRL


Are there any Chinese communities where you live? Is Craigslist a thing in your city? What about volunteering opportunities in the Chinese community? Or language exchange? There might be some Chinese clubs or special interest groups you can join. These are all opportunities to get a bit outside of your comfort zone and connect with real Chinese speakers in new and exciting environments. Easy? No. Worth it? Definitely. 

#4 - Practice Chinese Online


This one is a bit easier than making a friend IRL. Online friendships, while usually not as meaningful as offline, can help you learn real-life Chinese from the comfort of your home. There are a bunch of language exchange websites and apps (https://www.hellotalk.com/). You can also join a WeChat group, there are groups from people trying to find language partners to exotic car lovers to groups that feature China food and travel.

#5 - Play Chinese Video Games


There are plenty of mobile apps that pair entertainment with education and can help you learn Chinese in a not-so boring way. But there are also a lot of Chinese games, and so if your Chinese is decent already and you’re looking to level up (especially your character recognition and reading speed), you might want to try downloading a few of these games via the App Store and have a go. If you’re an intermediate-advanced Chinese speaker, this can be a fun and entertaining way to further improve your Chinese. Here are 5 mobile games that you can give a try.

#6 - Prepare for the HSK


China's Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) is the standardized national test used to determine fluency of non-native speakers in Chinese. It’s used by Chinese universities to assess the enrolment of foreign students as well as by a number of Chinese companies looking for foreign workers. Regardless of whether or not you plan to study or work in China, preparing for the HSK can be a great motivator to help you keep learning Chinese in a structured manner. 

#7 - Chinese Flashcards


Flashcards are a time-tested method of moving important information from the online classroom into the brain, and they're perfect for language learning. They work well because they encourage strategic repetition drills into your memory, just like repeating someone's name after meeting them, or singing Uptown Funk for the millionth time. Flashcards also promote active recall, which creates stronger neural connections in the brain. This means you'll remember things better, longer. If you're interested in getting some e-Flashcards, you can click on this link and complete the form at the bottom of the page.

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