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Learning New Mandarin Vocabulary


Here are a few tips for learning more Mandarin Chinese vocabulary. If you have any other ideas, please share them.

Organize Words By Topic

It may be easier to remember words which are connected by a common theme. There are several vocabulary lists on this website which are organized by topic. Remember to practice these words and phrases by using them in sentences.

Vocabulary Log

Use a vocabulary log to keep track of all the words you’ve learned. Be sure to write down the pronunciation and a sample usage for each entry in your log. You can add to the log whenever you come across an unfamiliar word, and review it regularly to reinforce these new words.


Flashcards can be used in conjunction with a vocabulary log to test your vocabulary knowledge. Write down the word on one side of the card, and its definition and a sample sentence on the other side. Flashcards can be used whenever you have a few spare moments, such as on your daily commute or during the commercial breaks on TV. There are also many computer flashcard programs available, such as the free DimSum Chinese Tools.

Browse The Dictionary

Every Mandarin student should have a good translating dictionary. You can browse through the dictionary to pick up new words and phrases. You can find several dictionary reviews on this website.

Organize Vocabulary By Characters

A useful strategy for learning Mandarin vocabulary is to organize multi-character words according to their common first or last Chinese character. A useful software tool for this kind of study is Hanzi Master.

Tag Household Objects

If your housemates don’t mind, you could attach labels to objects around the house. Every time you go to use one of these objects, say the Mandarin name out loud, and try to use it in a sentence. Be sure to include the Chinese characters on your labels.

Use The Words In Writing And Speaking

No matter how you learn new Mandarin vocabulary, reinforce it by using all new words in sentences and in writing. Most people have to use a word several times before it sticks in their mind, so take every opportunity to speak Mandarin and to use all these new words as often as possible.

Your Ideas?

Do you have some other ideas for learning new vocabulary? Help out your fellow students by sharing them here.

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