Advice for Beginners

Although this podcast was designed with intermediate and advanced learners in mind, many listeners would ask me if I had any advice for beginners. And, indeed, one listener emailed me a number resources that she found helpful (Thank you, Fiona 🙏). So below are some of my thoughts with some resources that Fiona kindly shared with me to be shared with you guys.

  1. I would always emphasise on the importance of speaking out loud. This could just be you in your room repeating what you heard. Accuracy of your pronunciation is not the key here. The idea is to build up the confidence to speak Chinese. Talking aloud also reinforce your memory so two birds one stone 😉. In time, you will find that your pronunciation will automatically improve.
  2. Incorporate practising Chinese into your daily life. Hiring a good teacher will definitely help to shape up your routine. And because you’re spending money, you are more likely to be more strict with yourself. However, there is an abundance of free resources out there for beginners if you wanted to take the reins. You can:
    • Read, watch and/or listen to beginner-level resources that interest you (some ideas below). You don’t want to bore yourself into giving up. I think it’s good to find resources where you understand some but not all of what is being said. But be patient and stick with it! Before you know it, you will find that you’re understanding more and more!
    • (If you like keeping diaries or journaling) Write your diary or journal entry in Chinese. This can be done with or without journal prompts.
    • Find a buddy to practise Chinese conversations with you. This could be someone also learning Chinese and is at a similar level to you or a language exchange buddy.
    • I am trying to build a ‘chatbot’ to help beginners to practise speaking when they’re by themselves. It’s at the very very preliminary stages, available on  (you’ll have to use chrome for it to work). Please try it out and let me know what you think! If it’s something that could be helpful, I can continue developing it.

At the end of the day, learning a language is all about practising consistently and persistently. Here are some free resources available for you to consider!

  • Google Chrome extension or smartphone apps (HanYouBrowser and LinguaBrowse): you can quickly obtain the pinyin with the correct tones and translate unfamiliar words to build a vocabulary bank for studying later.
  • Reading and/or listening to a simplified version of Monkey King of Journey to the West:
  • Listen to familiar Western fairytale or children’s stories but in Chinese, such as the Frog Prince:
  • Read Chinese children’s stories, some available here:

If you have more practical tips and tricks, please get in touch and we can build on this list together!

All the best,