Mandarin Chinese, with over a billion speakers, is one of the most popular languages in the world to learn at the moment. Considered an extremely difficult language, especially due to the characters and tones, it has suprisingly simple grammar, without complex verb conjugations and tenses.
In this course, we will teach you how to read at the same time as we teach you how to understand the language. We teach only one character at a time, with constant revision to help you remember them. The romanised form (Pinyin) is used only with the introduction of the character, then you need to remember the sound each character represents as it is used in various sentences and dialogues. There are flash cards at the end of every 20 lessons to help you.
Although some characters look like the word they represent, this is only true for a very small number, and most characters need to be remembered individually. Mandarin Chinese, spoken througout much of mainland China and understood in Guangzhou and Hong Kong (where Cantonese is the main dialect spoken) uses simplified characters (except in Taiwan), as opposed to Cantonese which uses traditional Characters.
Chinese is a tonal language, meaning that different words which are otherwise spelled and pronounced the same, have different meanings depending on the pitch of your voice. There are 4 tones, plus a 5th neutral tone. Please listen to the words below to compare the different tones.
mā (first tone, constant level)
má (second tone, rising voice)
mă (third tone, falling then rising voice)
mà (4th tone, falling voice)
ma (5th tone, neutral)
Notice how the symbol on top of the vowel indicates how you should use your voice. Please don't worry too much about them now. There is a lot of audio in the course to help you listen and practice, so just try to remember the sound each character makes as you learn it, and soon the tones will be much more familiar to you.