If you are learning Mandarin Chinese, check out this video interview Olly Richards from I Will Teach You a Language recorded last year. Olly is a great interviewer and even went to the trouble of getting a complete transcript made of the interview (available for free on his site). In the interview, we discuss: 1) My journey to learn Mandarin Chinese. 2) The ways in which Mandarin is actually an easy language. 3) How to best learn tones. 4) The myth that you need to move to China or Taiwan to learn Mandarin. 5) Differences between the Mandarin spoken in Mainland China and Taiwan. 6) The importance of chéngyǔ (成語, “idioms”), which are usually 4 characters in Chinese. 7) My top 3 resources for learning Mandarin Chinese. 8) More about what my Master Mandarin guide is and how it can help beginning and intermediate learners.
Is it ideal to learn Japanese in Japan and Mandarin in China or Taiwan? Yes. Is it a mandatory condition? Absolutely not. Let me be clear: living in Japan and Taiwan for a number of years was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I go back to visit as often as possible. But while living in a Japanese or Mandarin speaking country can certainly provide learners of these languages many advantages, it’s critical to understand that it’s not a requirement for success. In today’s world, “I can’t learn Japanese or Mandarin because I live in rural Kansas” is an excuse, not a reality. With Internet access, a little creativity, and a lot of hard work, you really can learn any language, anywhere.
I made just about every possible mistake when starting out in languages. I used terribly inefficient methods, slogged through boring materials I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, and almost gave up more than a few times. But this is good news for you: struggling so much in the beginning and later correcting course makes me a much better language coach. You never want to learn from a “natural” who picks up new skills easily. As Tim Ferriss points out in the The 4-Hour Chef: “The top 1% often succeed despite how they train, not because of it. Superior genetics, or a luxurious full-time schedule, make up for a lot. Career specialists can’t externalize what they’ve internalized. Second nature is hard to teach.”
One of the most common questions I receive is, “What do you mean by ‘mastery’?” First of all, “mastery” does not mean “perfection”. Such a thing doesn’t exist in languages. And even if it did, it would not be a “S.M.A.R.T. goal” (covered in detail in my Master Japanese and Master Mandarin guides) and is therefore irrelevant to our purposes as language learners. So if “mastery” does not equal “perfection”, what does it mean? Read on to find out.
The long wait is over. After many months of hard work, late nights, and early mornings, I have finally finished the second edition of my Master Mandarin guide. What’s New? 1) A new 300-page PDF version of the guide (nearly twice the length of v 1). 2) An EPUB version for use on iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other EPUB readers. 3) A MOBI version for use on your Kindle or in any of the Kindle apps (iOS, Android, etc.). 4) A new Chinese 101 chapter that covers the most important elements of how the Mandarin language works. 5) Tons and tons of new tools and online resources. 6) New discount codes for iTalki, Chinese Learn Online, and WaiChinese. 7) New expert interviews with Benny Lewis from Fluent in 3 Months, Olly Richards from I Will Teach You a Language, Jake Gill from Skritter, Vladimir Skultety from Forever a Student, Chris Parker from Fluent in Mandarin, Ash Henson from Outlier Linguistics, and Adam Menon from Chinese Learn Online. 8) New cheat sheets including: The Most Common 500 Words in Mandarin, complete lists for Remembering Traditional Hanzi and Remembering Simplified Hanzi, a Hanyu Pinyin chart, a Time Adverb chart, a SMART Goals work sheet, and a weekly study plan.