Chinese learning from scratch

This is a re-post of a response a wrote to a post on Helen’s blog entitled

Learning Chinese with LingQ: No knowledge

It’s very hard to start out in Chinese from scratch on LingQ at this point – I know because I tried.

A highly recommendable book is Zhang Peng Peng’s ‘Intensive spoken Chinese’, which will help you to understand about 1000 words over the course of 40 dialogues, each of which includes the characters and pinyin transliteration, as well as wordlists.

Following each chapter is also a relevant grammar point, but I just skipped those in my hunger for more vocabulary.

My method was
1) read (the pinyin) and listen without understanding first
2) read and listen and look at the word list on the side of the page to figure out what they are saying
3) read and listen again to see if I understand
4) listen without reading to test my comprehension

This only took about 10 minutes for each dialogue, and I found that I could learn to understand a dialogue with sometimes 30 new vocab words in that time.

Once you can understand without reading, move onto the next lesson and do the same. Then it’s just a matter of listening to the dialogues every day over the course of a week or so and after that occasionally repeating, and within about a month or less you can understand 1000 words of Chinese (in context).

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