How to get started learning Chinese

So you’re interested in learning Mandarin Chinese? You’ve come to the right place! I used to think that learning Chinese would be nearly impossible! How could anyone memorize all those characters?! Fortunately, I’ve found over time that typical depictions of this task’s difficulty are very exaggerated.

I’ve spent countless hours wading through seas of blog posts, instructional videos, textbooks, and tools in search of the most efficient ways to learn Chinese. In fact, I’ve even built some of my own tools when I couldn’t find a good existing solution. I definitely don’t claim to be an expert in Chinese and am very much still learning myself everyday. But I’ve written this series of articles as what I believe to be the ultimate guidebook for everything I wish I’d known upfront when getting started learning Mandarin. I found that in my personal experiences, I got so excited about learning more and more new words and characters that I put off a lot of necessary groundwork right off the bat and it definitely led to confusion later. That’s why I’d like to share these crucial building blocks here. By learning this information upfront (maybe before even studying a single character), I truly hope you will gain a lot in the long run and learn Mandarin Chinese in record time.

Learning a language is a long journey, but using the most efficient method possible, you can excel quickly and avoid some common pitfalls and frustrations. If you set aside some time to read through all of these posts in one sitting, you should be able to get through all of the material in just an hour or so. This is small time commitment in the grand scheme of things and I guarantee you will see it as having been worth your time. Being exposed to all of the information in this series before you begin learning any characters or words will definitely set you up for rapid progress!

As you work through the information, try to avoid the temptation to get bogged down in the details. The goal of the guide is to expose you to all the relevant information before you get too worried about learning characters or words. This particularly goes for the pinyin pronunciation, tones, and grammar. My intention is to show you the ways that Chinese is easier than you might think, and a lot of that understanding comes from having an overview of all the skills you’ll need without too much focus on developing any of them right away.

Are you ready? Let’s start! (我们开始吧。)

Series Overview