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Is it possible for an English speaker to speak Chinese fluently?

Mandarin Chinese and the other dialects of Chinese are very different linguistically from English, which makes them challenging for English speaking learners. However, it is completely possible for a learner to get to a level of high fluency or near native fluency in Chinese, regardless of what age you start learning. In some of my […]

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How to Learn Chinese Fast – My Best Way to Learn Mandarin

Here is my new resource for everybody: how to learn Chinese fast. In the video I  talk about three things. 1)       What resources do you need to study Chinese? 2)       How should you start to learn? 3)       How can you progress?   What resources do you need? A lot of people want to learn Chinese […]

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Which is easier to learn, Chinese or Japanese?

People often compare Chinese to Japanese because they are both East Asian languages and both languages include Chinese characters. It is debatable which is easier or more difficult to learn. The big challenges with Chinese are pronunciation: Mandarin has four tones and Cantonese has six tone contours, and Chinese characters, you have to learn a […]

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How to create a Chinese name for your brand

Ever since China opened up its economy, more and more Western companies have been flooding into the country. Branding in Chinese is an essential element of any Western company’s China strategy, and a big part of this is the decision about what name to use in China. As you can imagine, this can be a […]

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How many tones are there in Mandarin / Cantonese?

One of the challenges for many people when they are learning Chinese is that it is a tonal language. This means that there are multiple ways of pronouncing each syllable that can change its meaning. The syllable can be pronounced in a high pitch, a low pitch or its pitch can go up or down. […]

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Should you learn Mandarin or Cantonese?

The short answer is: if you are interested in mainland China or will be travelling anywhere in China or Taiwan, I would advise learning Mandarin Chinese. It is the official language, it is used in schools and on every TV and radio station, and practically everybody in China understands Mandarin. If you are interested in […]

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Does everybody in China speak Mandarin?

Standard Mandarin is taught in every school in China. Children have to speak Mandarin at school, wherever they are in the country, even if they speak a local dialect at home. Also, almost all the radio and TV in China is in standard Mandarin. What’s more, both teachers and radio/TV presenters have to pass special […]

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Which first? Simplified or traditional Chinese characters?

This is a question which I get asked a lot. Very strictly speaking, it is more logical to see how traditional Chinese characters have been simplified than to start with the simplified versions then go back to the original characters. If you have an academic interest in Chinese then this may be a good strategy. […]

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Effective foreign language study: Active learning – part 2

This guest post comes from a reader of this blog, Semaj Richardson, who contacted me to express his thoughts about effective foreign language study from his own experiences. Semaj also runs livefluently.com, a website about language learning strategies and personal development. The post below is fact a follow-up to an article I wrote some time ago […]

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How long does it take to learn to speak Chinese fluently?

I have been speaking Chinese for 7 years and this is one of the questions I get asked most. The simple answer is: it depends on how much effort you put into it. I’m not going to pretend that you can learn to speak Chinese fluently in a week, it does take time to get […]

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