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A Beginner’s Guide to Learning Chinese: with Efrain

Efrain Aldaz | February 03, 2016 | | 2 Comments
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My name is Efrain Aldaz. I grew up in the Bay Area, but I have always had a deep appreciation for diversity and culture. I love traveling and learning new languages. As a college student, I studied abroad in Barcelona. I was very lucky to have an opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Language is a pivotal part of these relationships that I built, and has allowed me to connect to people on a deeper level.

I’ve had the benefit of growing up in a bilingual household. As a Mexican-American, I am fluent in Spanish. However, I wanted to expand my horizons even more, so I decided to pursue Mandarin Chinese. Based on current business trends, I’m certain that knowing Chinese will help me out in the future.

Related: Will Learning Chinese Give You Job Security?

In an effort to get started, I tried books, audio CDs, and videos on Mandarin Chinese. Even finding native Chinese speakers to practice with has proven costly, whether it’s because of time or money. Luckily, I have found a happy median with TutorMing. Since using the online-learning platform, I have been able to learn material at my level, around my schedule.

Prior to using TutorMing, I wasn’t making much progress. My vocabulary was very limited. Watching videos on YouTube and asking random Chinese strangers proved to be ineffective methods of learning Chinese pronunciation. (Of course, the ten words and phrases I knew sounded right to me.) Taking a group class was an option, but inconvenient; especially having to drive anywhere in Bay Area traffic. Also, I disliked taking language classes in high school, so I doubted that this would’ve been much different. Human interaction is at the purpose of learning a new language and is what makes learning enjoyable. Short of moving to a Mandarin speaking country, I was running out of options that would provide positive results. Like with most new learners, the biggest road block was: How do I get started?

Meet with a certified tutor or instructor

“It’s all Chinese to me.” Tones, Pronunciation, and Pinyin are all things you need to know. Without them, you’ll have a hard time understanding anything. TutorMing provides a free assessment class, where they can provide you with a breakdown of all of the above. Being able to ask questions and getting an instant response was great. I was able to build off of things I had only read about.

Repetition is key, repetition is key, repetition is key

As with any other skill, practice makes perfect. I began taking two classes per week. With the program I have a wide array of topics such as numbers, colors, dining, directions, and much more. With over 20 classes, I was able to increase my proficiency. Currently I am at level 2 in TutorMing’s program and am pretty proud of being able to type simplified Chinese on my iPhone.

Immerse yourself

The fastest way to learn a language is to expose yourself to the language as much as possible. Practice with friends, watch a show, listen to songs, download an app, etc. Starting from today, I will be focusing on applying these main factors.  Each week, I will write about my progress in my Chinese learning journey. Topics will include vocabulary, sentence structure, subject matter, and culture! I hope you’ll join me in my efforts to reach my goal.

Thanks for reading!

Learn chinese by Following along on Efrain's Path to becoming fluent:

Week 1: "Travel" Chinese

Week 2: "Feelings" in Chinese

Week 3: "Climate" and "Temperature" in Chinese

Week 4: "Directions" in Chinese

Week 5: "Where are you from?" in Chinese

Week 6: "Food" in Chinese

Week 7: "Flirting" in Chinese 

Week 8: "Money" in Chinese

Week 9: "What are you doing?" in Chinese

 

Want to learn more? Sign up and begin your own path to fluency today!Sign Up For A Free 1-on-1 Chinese Class!

 

Efrain Aldaz

Efrain Aldaz

Efrain is a contributing writer at TutorMing. He has a Bachelor's degree in Communication from San Diego State University. He is fluent in both English and Spanish, and is currently studying Mandarin Chinese in the hopes of becoming trilingual.

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