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Guest KONI

Vocabulary or Characters first when learning Mandarin ?

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Guest KONI

Hello,

first I'd like to present myself, I am a 21 year old luxemburgish Computer Science student currently studying in Switzerland. For those of you who don't know what/where Luxembourg is, it is a tiny (+/- 1200 km²) country between France, Germany and Belgium in Europe.

As I am planning to go to Beijing during the Summer holidays, and as I have always been a great fan of the chinese (asian) traditions and culture, I started learning mandarin a while (1 week ago). I read through all kinds of lessons and grammar/character rules and think I should be ready now to learn the real language.

But I do have still a problem: when I want to learn mandarin now...should I start by learning the characters, the pinyin and the meanings first or should I start with pinyin until I am able to speak and write in pinyin and then move on to the characters or what would you recommend me ?

I am stuck a little because this is the most important point in the study of chinese, I think, and therefor i dont want to make a mistake.

If you could give me a little help with this important step, I would be very grateful.

Greetings from Luxembourg,

KONI

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confucius

Pinyin first. Your most important goal in learning Mandarin should be mastering pronunciation of the tones. When yhou come back from China you may then embark on your study of Chinese characters. Being able to speak a little Chinese will be far more useful during your trip than the ability to distinguish between the men's and women's restrooms. Concentrate on pronunciation and vocabulary now, then enjoy your trip!

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Guest KONI
Pinyin first. Your most important goal in learning Mandarin should be mastering pronunciation of the tones. When yhou come back from China you may then embark on your study of Chinese characters. Being able to speak a little Chinese will be far more useful during your trip than the ability to distinguish between the men's and women's restrooms. Concentrate on pronunciation and vocabulary now, then enjoy your trip!

I don't especially mean the trip to China. As I am planning in learning Chinese as a language, I just wanted to know if I should focus first on Pinyin or on the characters to start the language.

Can you give me perhaps some links or programms to learn pinyin...I mostly find everything written in chinese characters and not a place that would be good for pinyin <-> english learning.

Thanks.

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JoH

This link is a good one for learning the basic pinyin syllables and how to put them together.

http://www.uiowa.edu/~chinese/pinyin/

What is really most important is that you find a class or a chinese person who speaks mandarin to help you with the pronunciation and tones at first. It will save you a lot of hard work later if you get that right from the start.

I would suggest you leave characters for a month or so, and even then you shouldn't expect to be able to write everything you can say. Some of the first words you will learn, like thank you, are not exactly easy to write. Learning to distinguish the male and female restrooms would be an advantage for your holiday though!

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