How I self-study Mandarin Chinese: Fun start (Part 1)

I moved to Singapore in 2011. There, people bombarded me with Chinese when they first met me. Well, I look Chinese. I have fairer skin so they thought I was from up north haha. But they quickly switched to English when I put on the puzzled face. Point learned: I could survive in a country with 75% Chinese ethnicity without knowing Chinese. So I didn’t try to busy my already hectic schedule anymore (Wow, as I’m writing this sentence, I see how I’m influenced by Singaporean grammar but I don’t even know how to fix it now haha).

Now that I’ve moved back home and am preparing for my next journey (yay college), I have too much time in my hand and I…guess what…decided to study Chinese seriously. But I don’t want to speak Chinese with Vietnamese accent, so I don’t go to any language centre. My choice? Self-learning. Utilizing the true power of Internet. Trying various methods, and suffering days when I was so down I just want to give up, I have finally found a combination that works for me. In 1 months, I finished HSK 1 (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (HSK) 汉语水平考试).  Of course I worked tirelessly every single day, with at least 2 hours a day. But it’s better than attending a semester of Chinese class in college and studying the same content of knowledge. 🙂

So Part 1:

I started off familiarizing myself with common and easy characters. Written Chinese is logosyllabic, so Chinese don’t really have alphabet system, rather they have radicals with meanings behind them that combine together to make a character.

For example, 女 means female, 子 means child, these are characters on their own but also when they combine to make 好, that means “good”, because having a woman and a child means it’s good.


I use resources from this page Chineasy. There is also a book being kickstarted by the author. Visit the Facebook page for more photos. Not only you can learn Chinese characters the fun way, it’s also meaningful because the illustrations actually show the “evolution” of the characters, and the Chinese philosophy and culture.

Coming up next in Part 2: I will talk about learning basic tones (there are 4 tones in Chinese and a very short neutral tone). It’s also a very fun way. 😉


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