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How to Study Chinese

About Chinese

The Chinese language (also called Hanyu, zhongwen, or huawen­) is a member of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. About one-fifth of the world speaks some form of Chinese as its native language, making it the most spoken language in the world.

IVC Chinese program teaches Standard Mandarin Chinese, known as common words or national language (pu-tong-hua, or guo-yu ­), which is based on the dialect of Beijing. Standard mandarin is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, one of the four official languages of Singapore, and one of six official languages of the United Nations. Standard Mandarin also corresponds to the written Chinese forms - hanzi (Chinese characters) used by all Chinese speakers around the world.

To Learn Chinese


Patience is the first key to your success. Exposing your ears to native Chinese speaking or using audio programs will help you to get used to this unfamiliar sound system. Don't be frustrated with yourself when you find that you can only understand a few words.


Practice is the second key. Activities such as practicing with a Chinese teacher, pairing with a language partner, or visiting a Chinese restaurant or market can help you to use the language, and create your own conversation.


Practice writing each character at least 7-10 times every day until you can remember it. Quiz yourself periodically to test your memory. As you write, think of the sound and meaning of the character, and say it out loud.


Read text, or short paragraphs frequently until you can read the characters without help of Pinyin. Don't be frustrated if you find some characters you do not understand, go back to practice more on the vocabulary, and read again.


Brooke Bui, PhD
Dean, Languages & Learning Resources

O: LA 209

Erika Arendts
Sr. Admin. Assistant, Languages & Learning Resources

O: LA 207