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Hey guys,

I've toyed with te idea of learning Chinese for a while, i then stumbled upon this forum, and after reading a few threads, and the general advice sticky, decided to just dive in head first and see how things went. I'm basically looking for advice on what more I could do to make for a fuller learning experience.

I spent my first 2 weeks or so trying to get my head around the pinyin system and tones, doing nothing much else apart from practising the pronunciation of the initials and finals, and doing tone drills (doubles).

As of now, pinyin is still a work in progress, but I've started NPCR 1 Textbook and Workbook, doing 60-90 mins per day, and aiming to do 1 lesson per week.

I've also been listening to podcasts while at work, mostly Serge Melnyks or Chinesepod (free lessons, not a sub as of yet)

Is there anything else I could be doing to help myself with picking things up? or any other recommended materials / apps I should look into getting?

Thanks in advance! :D

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Is there anything else I could be doing to help myself with picking things up?


Find a teacher, even if it's only on-line. Very helpful when starting out, especially for things like learning Pinyin and developing proper tones.


...but been put off by the stigma of it being 'very difficult'.


Do you really think that the difficulty involved in learning Mandarin is a "stigma?" Maybe you meant to write something else instead.

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First, welcome and thanks for the question!

Sounds like you have a pretty good plan so far to me. 

As for things you can do to up you game, here are some suggestions. 
1. I agree with abcdefg that you should find yourself a teacher or at least a tutor. Studying independently, it's easy to get trapped in the 'mute stage' unless you have someone to regularly practice with. The feedback a teacher or tutor provides is also invaluable at this stage to keep you from developing bad habits. 
2. Shop around for a podcast you really like. I usually recommend Popup Chinese because it's far more entertaining than drier alternatives. I like Melnyks and all, but it's a bit of a struggle to listen to sometimes. 
3. You should consider getting another textbook. The extra practice will be invaluable at this stage. If you don't want to sink the money in, consider using U of I's free online lessons for extra practice. 
4. Dig around on the forum a bit to see if there are anyone has experience doing one of your hobbies in Chinese. Having an enertaining way to make your study more interesting once you're in the upper beginner to intermediate stage will go a long way to keeping you motivated. I know people have gotten a lot out of the comic book an short story projects here on the forum. 
5.  Post early and post often! If you have any question, don't be afraid to ask. If you want to share any experience, do that too!This forum is full of people who love to help each other, so feel welcome to share as you want :)
Good luck going forward and let us know how you choose to proceed!
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I agree with all that has been said above.


i want to stress how useful it can be to start some sort of lessons/classes for the first 6/9 months of study at a minimum. An evening class at your local Uni/adult education centre or other similar would be my first choice, if this is not possible then something online is a good substitute.


Another text book is a good idea but not straight away, stick to the NCPR for a while or you may feel overwhelmed. If you start a course you will probably have to get a different text book for that.


If you have a smart phone or tablet I would recommend getting Pleco, learn to use it early on and you will never regret it. Not only is it a dictionary but there are flashcards, handwriting practice and loads more. Get the basic bundle to start with and later in your studies you may want/need to expand the dictionaries. The cost is well worth it. There is a free demo so there is no excuse not to have a look here https://www.pleco.com/


As already said joining this forum was a good move, ask as many questions as you need, remember to try to answer it yourself, then folks can correct and guide you.


So welcome and hope you do well in your studies. It is not so difficult as people like to make out :) , don't get me wrong it will be hard work and it is not a walk in the park but the rewards are well worth it.

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Every learner is different in their learning style. For example, whilst some people like to know the mechanics of the language, others prefer to just get a feel for the language and let it flow naturally.


Personally, I like to know the grammar. If you are anything like me, then I recommend getting a grammar book that will actually explain why things are the way they are. A good book for this purpose is Basic Chinese: A Grammar and Workbook by Yip and Rimmington, but there are also other good books available.

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Cheers guys :) I guess i'll have to try find a bit of wriggle room in the finances for classes / a tutor.

Which would you guys recommend if thats something Im able to go for? I know the closest classes to me is at the Sheffield C.I. I did a quick google search last night and my local colleges dont do anything for Chinese, but I'm not sure if a classroom setting or 1 to 1 would be more beneficial.

@Anonymoose: I'll take a look at that thanks, It would be nice to know the why behind the grammar.

@Kelby: I checked out Popup Chinese on thr iPhone's podcast app... The ones they have on there, the topics seem a little random lol, I've been picking ones that are related to the NPCR lesson I'm on to add a bit extra to the textbook audio.

@Shelley: I got Pleco the other day, I really like the flashcards and being able to customise them as i learn new characters :)

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@AndyPee:That's the allure of it for me ;)

As for the classes/tutor, you may be able to get this accomplished on the cheap. Are there many Chinese people in your area? In Uni I had some good luck getting cheap tutoring by asking international students if they could help out. About half were willing and it didn't cost more than a couple cups of coffee each week. You'll of course need to pay more for instruction at a deeper level, but it may be worth considering.

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There aren't many at all, if any. Its only a small town I live in.


I may be able to get myself onto the Beginners Mandarin course at a Uni near me next year, I think it starts up around mid January and runs over 12 weeks, a couple of evenings a week. :)

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Yes -- I found someone in London for £25 who was fine but when I realised that online lessons were just as good -- and cheaper -- I switched. You do have the time zone working against you, but there are some tutors based in Europe or the US so that can help with scheduling a time that isn't 6am UK time. Also be prepared to trial different tutors until you find someone you're happy with, can be a bit hit and miss.

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