A Beginner’s Guide to Chinese Classes

Chinese is more accessible than some people think. It’s more challenging than other foreign languages, but you can learn it with patience and dedication.

Chinese does not have an alphabet like English, but it is based on symbols that can be written using Roman letters in a system called pinyin. All beginners should start by learning pinyin.


When learning Chinese, the first thing to do is to build up your listening vocabulary. Having enough words will allow you to understand more complex listening materials and give you the ability to speak in conversational Mandarin. To build your vocabulary, read a few words daily in your textbook and listen to dialogues on TV or podcasts.

Another essential skill to learn is hearing and distinguishing different tones. This task is challenging for beginner learners, but it will improve your understanding of spoken Mandarin and make you sound more natural in your conversations. It would help if you also practiced shadowing or listening to recordings of native speakers talking in various tones.

It’s a good idea to practice listening daily, even for only 5 minutes. This is because listening is the most essential language skill, and it will help you unlock a world of conversations with locals and new media like movies and TV shows. To keep you motivated, you can use audio-visual materials that are fun and engaging, such as podcasts, YouTube videos, music, or Netflix Chinese series with subtitles (all of which come with their mobile apps for easy access). This will ensure you don’t get bored of listening practice and reinforce the pronunciation and grammatical structures you have learned.


When you’re learning any language, reading is a big part of it. And, for a beginner to Chinese, it is essential to read. Reading helps to solidify words you’ve learned from Chinese classes in Seattle and allows you to practice your pronunciation, tone, and sentence structure. Reading is also the foundation for writing. It is commonly said that avid readers are better writers, and research has supported this claim. As you continue to learn the language, you’ll want to move on from essential reading to extensive reading. This reading material is more complicated than what you’ve been practicing but still comprehensible at your current level.

One of the main challenges with reading Chinese is that there are so many characters. There are over 20,000 different characters. To help with this, most Chinese courses and textbooks teach radicals, which are used to identify character components. This is helpful at an early stage in the process, but once you have a strong base of the language, this becomes less and less useful.

Another great way to improve your Chinese reading is to use books with English translations alongside the Chinese text. This will allow you to read along and understand what you’re reading at a quicker pace. Several book series are available that work this way, including the books by Haiyun Lu.


Writing is a vital aspect of learning Chinese. Not only does it improve your motor skills, but it allows you to express yourself more artistically. For those accustomed to alphabetic symbols, Chinese characters can feel much more like drawings than written text.

Writing in Chinese is challenging and requires regular practice. Making it a daily habit to practice at least ten minutes per day is a good idea. It is essential to avoid getting discouraged and not to give up when it gets complicated. Writing is crucial for any Chinese student, particularly for beginners.

To write in Chinese, you need to be able to recognize characters by their stroke order and their grammatical components. In addition, it is helpful to know the meaning of each character you encounter. The best way to learn these things is to look for patterns. For example, if you have trouble remembering the character for the horse (), it might help to find out that it consists of three radicals and has a similar shape as the character for the lake ().

Most beginners in Chinese start with the simplified system, but it is also worth familiarizing yourself with the traditional writing system. It is essential to learn both systems in case you want to work in China or with Chinese people who use the old system.


Speaking is a vital part of learning Chinese. This is because it allows you to communicate with the Chinese people and understand their culture. Plus, it makes traveling to China much more accessible. It’s also a great way to show that you respect their language and are willing to put in the effort.

Speaking can seem daunting for a beginner, especially with the complex sound system and tones. But it is essential to make the time for it, as it will help you progress faster in your Chinese skills.

The good news is that if you can master the pinyin pronunciation, it’s pretty easy to learn to speak Chinese. Moreover, the Chinese language has a few grammar rules to learn, unlike other languages, such as Latin or German, that use cases and grammatical genders. It also needs the complex inflectional morphology in languages like Russian and Japanese.

In addition, Chinese doesn’t have any grammatical inflections for past or present tenses and only has one person for plural nouns, as well as the use of particles to indicate mood. This simplifies the learning process considerably and allows learners to build their vocabulary more quickly.