The prospect of learning the Chinese language can seem daunting at first because it is very different to English, or any other European language for that matter. Yes, it is true that it has a different writing system which takes the form of Chinese characters and that it is a tonal language, but do not let this put you off! Mandarin Chinese is a beautiful language and at a Beijing Summer Camp you can be sure that we will equip you with some amazing ways to learn Chinese and also enjoy this linguistic process. But why not start thinking about this now? Check out some of our top tips below:
1. Immerse yourself in the culture as well as the language
Your Chinese classes will of course lay the foundations for your Mandarin study, but cultural understanding plays a vital role in enriching your understanding as a Chinese learner. At our Summer Camp we think that taking part in cultural activities and excursions is as important as learning new vocabulary. That is why a summer camp in Beijing or Shanghai merges studying and cultural activities in an innovative and exciting way. In the morning you could be learning key vocabulary you can use at a Chinese market, and in the afternoon you could be putting this all into practice at an authentic and local market. This is why taking part in a summer camp program abroad is such an invaluable experience. We bring the learning experience alive through active participation; you not only improve your Chinese, but you grow in cultural understanding.
2. Listen to Chinese music or radio
Listening to Chinese music or radio is another way of studying and is really beneficial for your listening skills (and because either option makes a journey pass quicker)! When you listen to a Chinese person speaking or singing on the radio, your brain gets more used to hearing the tones of the Chinese language and this will ultimately improve your communication skills. You don’t need to spend hours listening, perhaps only 10-15 minutes a day, but this method is fantastic when you are on-the-go. There are so many resources for music and the radio available online that the internet really is your oyster! This easy method will also enable you to continue your Chinese study once you have left China too.
3. Practice with your friends- learning does not have to be a chore
At a summer camp in China you are surrounded by like-minded people who are interested in learning about another culture and indeed improving their language skills. Why not help your fellow campers out with their language skills and practise together? You could make flash cards with one side showing the English and on the other side the Chinese charcter. Then test each other! Here is a game idea: Get an (empty) cookie jar and put the new words in the jar and pick out the flashcards. This is a sociable activity and it is always more interesting studying with a friend than by yourself!
4. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
Learning a language is challenging and you do have to persevere. The rewards are always positive since regular practice and self-belief will help you improve quickly. During our summer camps we will tell you that you should not be afraid of getting things wrong as this is only natural. Mistakes are all part of the learning curve so do not let it dampen your spirits. We always want you to try and answer a question or contribute so just relax. To help build up your confidence you can always practise in your bedroom or somewhere private. We found this advice from another language learner to be very insightful, she practises in front of a mirror to build up her confidence. Check out her story: https://matadornetwork.com/abroad/8-tips-for-learning-mandarin-chinese/
5. Little and often
You may have heard this phrase time and time again, but it really does ring true in terms of studying Chinese. If you practise your language skills every day，they will become second nature and you will reap the benefits. This is why at our Summer Camp we have devised a cultural-immersion program which has morning lessons taking place every day. It is all about building your language learning into your routine. You do not have to laboriously slave over character-learning, instead short bursts will keep your studying fresh in your mind and your interest and motivation levels higher!