Frequently Asked Questions
The term Mandarin actually refers to one of the major seven Chinese dialect groups- Mandarin being the largest of those groups. Literally, it means’ the common dialect’. It is based on the Beijing dialect. The government intends all Chinese people to use it as a common language.
Yes, you can, if your goal is to learn basic conversation only. However, if you intend to acquire higher level Mandarin communication skills, learning the language as a whole – including Characters – is much more beneficial. Learning Chinese Characters helps you master spoken Mandarin in the long term and increases your power of retention.
Mandarin is commonly described as having four tones, but it’s more accurate to think of it as having five tones, including one ‘light’ or ‘neutral’ tone. Also, under certain circumstances, Characters’ original tones may have to change.
Absolutely, tones are important. Many words in Mandarin have the same basic pronunciation. The thing that distinguishes them is the tone. Still, you don’t need to worry too much about the tones: Even if your tones are slightly off, the meaning you want to convey will often be clear from the context.
Bear in mind: constant and patient repetition is all it takes to learn!
There are usually two ways to look up a character.
- For a character you know the pronunciation but not its character and meaning, you simply look for it by its sound.
- For a character you cannot recognize in text, you need to go get the dictionary definition by its radical.
Nowadays it is highly recommended to use modern and very helpful dictionary Apps on your smartphone, which can make your life as a Mandarin Chinese Student much, much easier.