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Mandarin Learning Tips Blog

Patrick Kim

Patrick Kim is an editor at TutorMing. He has a B.A. in East Asian Studies from UCSB, and has worked in China for 3 years. His hobbies are soccer, being outdoors, and studying Chinese.

Recent Posts

3 Mnemonic Steps to Learning 3,000 Characters Quickly

Patrick Kim | September 03, 2016

If you know Chinese 3,000 characters, you have enough vocabulary to read a newspaper or understand conversations in the workplace. The problem most people have is that 3,000 feels too far away or many of the characters look alike. Indeed, 3,000 is a lot, but Chinese characters are composed of smaller elements that make them easier to recognize and distinguish. To learn Chinese efficiently, you can take advantage of these clues to a character’s meaning or phonetic pronunciation as mnemonic devices. Deciphering the meaning of character elements gets progressively faster as you build new knowledge on top of previous knowledge of characters that share the same character elements. Paired with some creative imagery of your own, these mnemonic devices allow you to skip traditional methods of rote memorization almost completely, and just focus on retaining your mnemonics through another a second mnemonic trick called special repetition. What is indispensable about doing things the old fashioned way, however, is real interpersonal practice, which builds the most important type of memory, episodic memory.

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Is Chinese the World's Hardest Language?

Patrick Kim | August 27, 2016

You've probably heard somewhere before that Chinese is the “hardest” language in the world. There is a seemingly endless amount of information on the web describing the “formidable” and “daunting” task of getting anywhere with Chinese, which discourages many aspiring learners. However, by what standards should we consider Chinese the hardest language? In practice, learning Mandarin isn't as hard as it seems. In fact, most of these assumptions are based on the way a scholar would approach learning the language, rather than ways that suit most people's real life learning objectives. 

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How to Type in Chinese

Patrick Kim | June 30, 2016

Like many things in daily life, computers and smartphones have greatly facilitated the task of writing in Chinese. Despite the differences between Chinese and the Roman alphabet, Chinese input settings for the keyboard on your computer or device are easy to use, and I highly recommend beginners add them. Typing in Chinese is usually done with one of the two main Romanization transcriptions of Mandarin: The Hanyu Pinyin system (汉语拼音 hànyǔpīnyīn), or Bopomofo. Pinyin is the more popular system used today as the official phonetic standard of China. Bopomofo is based on the Wade-Giles Romanization of Mandarin, and is commonly used in Taiwan. Since pinyin uses the widespread system of the English alphabet, making typing Chinese a lot more accessible for everyone, we will primarily focus on pinyin. hànyǔpīnyīn

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How To Say Numbers In Chinese

Patrick Kim | June 17, 2016

 Despite what you may have heard about Chinese being difficult to learn, the numerical system in Chinese is remarkably simple. Chinese numbers are easy to read and remember, but it still takes some practice to use them fluently in real life situations.

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