Learn Chinese: Measure Words and classifiers 1

In English, we can say things like (i) one table or (ii) two houses.  Here, a cardinal number (one, two) immediately precedes a common noun (table, house).  This is such an obvious fact about English that we probably take it for granted.  We may even assume that all other languages work in the same way.  But Chinese is different.  In Chinese, (i) is yi zhang zhuozi and (ii) is liang ge fangzi.  In both cases, there is a classifier (underlined) that appears between the number and the noun.  Table is a flat object and so we use the classifier zhangHouse is a general building and so we use the classifier ge. 

Read the full PDF here: Learn Chinese #4


Your first 100 Chinese characters

Which characters should you learn first?  You could start by learning the most common characters first.  Many common characters are simple (e.g. 人, 了, 个) but many others are more complex (e.g. 要, 着, 睡).  Alternatively, you could start by learning the radicals, many of which are also characters.  This can be useful.  Once you learn the radical 鱼 (fish), for example, you will recognize that 鲸, 鲨 and 鲶 are types of fish (or animals that resemble fish).  Other radicals are reduced forms of characters (e.g. 犬becomes犭), though, and the resemblance is often lost.  Read the full PDF here: Learn Chinese #3

5 misconceptions about language learning

In this article, I explain and debunk 5 misconceptions about language learning.  The misconceptions are: (i) Everybody speaks English; (ii) Young children always make the best language learners; (iii) Some languages are easier than others; (iv) You will reach fluency in a language by osmosis alone; (v) Grammar is not very important.  Remember that learning refers only to foreign languages.  I do not discuss misconceptions about acquiring a native language.

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5 tips for learning a language

I think that language learning = 1/3 motivation + 1/3 hard work + 1/3 smart work.  Many people are not successful because they have two out of three of these things.  Motivation and hard work are important, but they are partially wasted if you are not following an effective learning method.  Smart work and hard work are important, but they are partially wasted if you do not actually love the language.  In this article I give 5 tips for learning a language: (i) set realistic goals, (ii) have the right motivation, (iii) find native speakers, (iv) don’t rely on books and (v) turn input into output. Continue reading