5 Alternative Ways to Learn Chinese Before Going To China

Stop, please! Don’t go! It’s not what you think.

I won’t give you the usual advice that you read all over the internet. Most blogs explain how to apply to private schools, universities or paid courses. These options will set you back $1000 or more!

There are much smarter ways to learn Chinese! Read on:

Hello – word written on a smudged blackboard with a Chinese tranlation,with a hand holding chalk

Learn the most frequent words first.

It’s crucial for you as a beginner to focus your learning; don’t go too wide, don’t try to learn everything at once. This might only make you lose your self-confidence. Instead, you should try using the 80/20 rule.

There are groups of words that we repeat in all languages. For example, the words for greetings, different foods, colors, transportation, locations…

So, you can Google the 1000 most common words in Chinese and write up your flashcards. With this basic vocabulary, you can get by anywhere. Having the basics in place is also a perfect springboard for further learning.

Watch videos on YouTube, Baidu, and Youku.

Most of us spend hours every week watching videos and movies. Why not use some of that time to learn Chinese?

YouTube, Baidu, and Youku all offer many videos that can help you with this task. There are video-series that take you through the basics one step at a time. They focus on particular vocabulary and grammar groups, then move to advanced lessons.

Type in ‘’learn Chinese’’, find the teacher you like best and start learning with ease!

Oh and, by the way, when was the last time you saw a Chinese movie? You shouldn’t underestimate this type of visual-auditory learning. It’s helpful, and it’s a lot of fun!

Buy the book Chineasy on Amazon.

Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to master. Writer ShaoLan Hsueh had to come up with the perfect solution to help her British-born children learn to overcome this fact.

The result was Chineasy, a book offering a system anyone can use to begin understanding and reading Chinese.

This beautifully designed work transforms the key Chinese characters into illustrations and makes them easy to remember. It presents a fun and simple way of combining the characters into more complicated words and phrases.

Also, readers around the world recommend it highly, as does Tim Ferriss, a very well known traveler, entrepreneur and language enthusiast. You should trust him on this one!   

Be an adventurous tourist.

Are you familiar with the situation? You’re determined to learn a language. You travel to the country of its origin. Yet, you end up surrounded by people who speak English. So, you give in and resort more and more to the safest way of communicating.

This is what happens at popular tourist spots. Why not go deep into China with a backpack? Stay in one place for long to make local friends, experience their everyday life, explore, try new things, even get lost?

China is so much more than its biggest cities. Its Xi’an and Shaanxi provinces are the home of the most exciting hikes, fantastic food, and remains of ancient cities. Guilin and Yangshuo offer backpackers the chance to explore hot springs, mud caves, and the famous rice fields, all while staying in nearby villages.

All in all, whatever province you choose, I guarantee you spectacular views, fantastic food and a chance to learn Chinese by communicating every day with the locals.

Language exchange program.

Instead of paying vast amounts of money, why not try a free language exchange program?

Using one of these programs is a great way to learn. You can teach someone a language you understand, and at the same time, they teach you the language you want to learn. It’s also a good way to make new friends, and we all know that learning with friends makes things a lot easier!

To try this, I recommend you download WeChat, a free Chinese app that provides text messaging, broadcasts, video sharing and also various features for contacting people at random if desired.

This way you could ask strangers who are locals to add you as a friend so that you can chat and help them improve their English while you learn Chinese. Trust me; it’s an excellent way to also learn about culture and customs and start long-lasting friendships!

Now it’s your turn

We are all aware of the benefits language learning brings. Choosing an alternative, more unusual way to learn can help you even more – it can bring with it excitement, fun, and new friendships!

If it’s Chinese you’re interested in, you should let that adventurer inside you pick one of these unconventional methods of learning it. I urge you just to let go and try something new!


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