Be sure you know the rules for giving and receiving gifts when visiting China or Taiwan. Chinese customs are much different from those in the USA or Europe.
The best way to learn Mandarin Chinese (or any other language) is to spend time in the countries where it is spoken. Living in China or Taiwan gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the culture and to use the language on a daily basis.
Arriving in China or Taiwan without any Mandarin language skills may seem intimidating, but fortunately there is an excellent guide to help you along. Survival Chinese is the perfect companion for living in Mandarin.
An excellent text for learning to read Chinese characters is The Lady In The Painting.
There are several ways to learn new Mandarin vocabulary. Before gaining conversational skills, books and software can help with the basics. My review section covers a wide rand of materials, including my latest review - Chinese For Dummies.
Acquiring new vocabulary is easy once you master the basics of the new language. Now you can have conversations and talk about a wide range of subjects from Chinese medicine to cultural topics such as traditional Chinese games.
Traditional Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years. It remain popular in China and Taiwan, and it is growing in acceptance around the world.
Follow this link to learn some Mandarin phrases for Chinese medicine.
I recently received this email:
I am a New Zealand high school student who has been studying Mandarin for over a year. I have been learning to speak the language with a self-taught course (FSI Standard Chinese), watching Chinese television and films and having conversations. I began learning after a two-month trip to China to visit family last year. (My mother is Chinese.) I can hold conversations on everyday topics in Mandarin and understand what I hear quite well, but I cannot read or write yet. Could you please give me some advice on when I should begin to learn Chinese characters, and what courses I could use?
You are right to hold off on learning Chinese characters until you have a basic understanding of the spoken language. Chinese characters can be a subject unto itself, requiring much more effort than learning to speak Mandarin Chinese.
It sounds like your current level of Mandarin will aid you in your study of Chinese characters, so I think that you are well prepared to begin learning to read and write.
There are many self-study materials for learning Chinese characters. Check out my reviews as a starting point. You may also be able to find a teacher in your community who offers group or private lessons.
A good Mandarin English dictionary is essential for learning Mandarin Chinese. If you are just starting out with Mandarin, I recommend the Oxford Beginner's Chinese Dictionary to get you started. Specifically designed for looking up English definitions, it also has reference sections on grammar, measure words, and language usage.
If you are a visual learner, perhaps DK Visual Dictionaries Mandarin Chinese English Bilingual Visual Dictionary will appeal to you, although I have some reservations about its usefulness.
And if you are overwhelmed by the difficulty of Mandarin Chinese, try reading Knee Howdy to see how easy Mandarin really is.
There are many methods, textbooks, and apps to help you learn Chinese characters. Nonetheless, it remains a formidable task for the average Westerner studying Mandarin Chinese.
One of the best approaches to learning Chinese characters I've seen is Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary, by Rick Harbaugh. Read my review...
I have a question about the "Mandarin Comparisons - Bi - More than" article. You call the comparison words like "expensive" and "tall" Stative Verbs, but in fact they're not verbs. I believe the verb in the examples would be "is (to be)" and words like "tall" would be adjectives. Should they actually be called Stative Adjectives? Or is there a reason they're called verbs even if they aren't?
Good question - and one that gets at the basics of Mandarin Grammar. You are quite right that "expensive" and "tall" are adjectives in English, but in Mandarin Chinese they also function as verbs, because the sentence 他很高 - Tā hěn gāo (He is tall), does not have a "to be" verb. The literal translation is "He very tall."
So 高 (gāo - tall) is classified as a stative verb, one that describes a relatively unchanging state.
Learn Mandarin Chinese words and phrases related to the Chinese Zodiac and the animal signs: