Create your own Chinese lessons with MandarinSpot

You probably know one of the fastest ways to build up your Chinese vocabulary and recognition of characters is through reading. It provides repeated exposure to words you’ve learned and also presents new words you can learn. Reading stories and articles can be more interesting than studying from a textbook. But, if you’re a beginner or intermediate learner, reading Chinese can be a painfully slow process compared to reading Romanized text. Every unknown character becomes a roadblock to comprehension. After hitting one roadblock after another, is it any surprise that...

Trump Rooster Statue

Six Chinese New Year Puns

The date for Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, shifts every year since it’s based on the lunar calendar. January 28th is the first day of Chinese New Year in 2017. Every year is designated by an animal on the Chinese zodiac, and this year happens to be the rooster. A common new year’s greeting you can say is 新年快乐 (xīnnián kuàilè), but do you know the Year of the Rooster greetings? The greetings you can say to wish people luck especially in the Year of the Rooster...

Dartboard with sticky note

How to Learn Chinese Words So They Stick

If you’re finding trouble speaking in Chinese and sometimes having to fill in with English, then you know how it can be a frustrating feeling. You might even know the word, but can’t retrieve it when you need it. The picture you have in mind of a fluid conversation with a native speaker instead becomes filled with awkward pauses as you frantically search for the right word. Sometimes you find it, but other times you might say the wrong word and get a confused look. Or perhaps, you might have...

HSK logo

Taking the HSK Level 5 Exam

I took the HSK Level 5 exam in early December, and I’d like to share my experience to anyone interested in taking it. The HSK is a Chinese proficiency exam aimed at foreigners learning Mandarin. It is a standardized test that provides employers and Chinese universities proof of your proficiency level. Anyone interested in measuring their language ability can also take it. At the start of the year, I had posted in “Challenge for 2016: Taking the HSK” the reasons for writing the exam. My main reason was to serve...

Typing Chinese

The Benefits of Learning to Write in Chinese and How to Get Started

Learning to write in Chinese can be difficult if you’re starting to learn the language, but it’s a skill that’s just as important as listening, speaking, and reading. If you only focus on speaking and listening in Chinese, then you might also want to spend time in reading and writing. Are you only focused on speaking and listening because you just want to communicate with native speakers? This is a reason that beginners often give for focusing on only two core skills. But, communicating with native speakers in Chinese also...

Challenge for 2016: Taking the HSK

Challenge for 2016: Taking the HSK

Last year, my goal was to improve my reading ability in Chinese by learning over 2,300 characters. After accomplishing that goal, I needed a new challenge for 2016. So, I’ve decided to take the Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (汉语水平考试), also known as the HSK. I believe the fastest way to master a language is to set goals. Imagine running a marathon with no finish line. You would probably have little motivation to keep going or quit before getting very far. That’s why it’s important to define what you want to achieve...

How To Rapidly Expand Your Vocabulary And Fluency In Chinese

How To Rapidly Expand Your Vocabulary And Fluency In Chinese

A goal I’ve had since I began learning Chinese was to read a Chinese newspaper without difficulty. I thought if I could reach this goal, it would be a major accomplishment. While studying diligently, I would always think someday I’d be able to read a newspaper. But, every time I tried reading a page of text it felt nearly impossible to understand the meaning. Almost every other word became “something” because I couldn’t read it. Even when I discovered browser plug-ins that made it easy to look up words, reading...

How to stay motivated while learning Chinese

How To Stay Motivated While Learning Chinese

Anyone who studies Chinese knows it’s not for the faint of heart. Learning Chinese requires an intense amount of time and practice to master. Of all the languages that exist, Chinese ranks as one of the hardest for native English speakers to learn. So why would anyone want to learn such a brain-busting language? If you compare it to something you consider being just as hard, you’ll understand why. Imagine the thrill you got from achieving what had seemed impossible to you, such as running a marathon or finishing a large and...

The Power of Habits

Applying The Power Of Habits In Learning Chinese

Since I’ve started learning Chinese years ago, I’ve paid money for classroom courses, books, apps, online lessons, and even a study abroad program. But, if I had only known that none of these approaches would be as important as forming good study habits, then I would have saved myself time and money. I admit I was too eager to find a one-size-fits-all solution to achieve my goal of becoming fluent. An app that can help me learn to write Chinese? That’s just what I need. Complete immersion to reach fluency...

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