Common Mistakes Chinese Learners Make
Posted by Jenie Cao on 2016-07-21 10:58:43 735


Many people have said that Chinese is the most difficult language in the world. But it is also a very interesting language! Most foreign language learners feel puzzled about the gap between their own language and Chinese, especially when it comes to grammar and the four tones in Mandarin. These are the main reason for most mistakes during the process of study.

Today let’s summarize what kind of mistakes are often made by Chinese language learners and see how these can be avoided.

1. Four tones (Mispronounce)

Chinese is a tonal language, different from most other languages in the world. So the concept of tones is difficult for most people to grasp, even for those who have a talent for learning a language. Although there are only four tones, trying to use them correctly can make people feel crazy!

Solution: Practice a lot, listen to Chinese audio, watch Chinese TV, and talk a lot with Chinese people and ask them to help you correct your pronunciation.

2. Chinese characters (Clerical error)

Chinese characters are another difficultly for learning the language. Pictographic rather than based on words, the language differs significantly from most others. Not only are many of the characters complex, but there is also a system for making each stroke in the proper order and direction. For your reference, below are some common, similar characters which students often feel confused about. As we see, the difference between them is slight, so when we study them, we should pay more attention to some small details.

For example:

己 jǐ (自己 zì jǐ, oneself)vs 已 yǐ (已经 yǐ jīnɡ, already)
千 qiān (thousand) vs 干 ɡān (dry)
天 tiān (day) vs 无 wú (Nothing)
人 rén (person) vs 入 rù (enter)

Solution: Do more writing practice, copy some passages in books by hand, and read some well-known and easy-to-understand Chinese books.

3. Chinese Grammar

Each language has its own unique grammar. Compounding the problem in learning Chinese are the tones and Chinese characters! Yet, the basic sentence structure of Chinese is not unlike many other languages.

The basic sentence structure of Chinese is “subject + predicate + objected”, noun of time should before or after subject.

For Example: He went to Beijing last week.
tā shànɡɡèxīnɡqī qù le Běijīnɡ. 他上个星期去了北京 。
shànɡɡèxīnɡqītā qù le Běijīnɡ. 上个星期他去了北京。

None of place usually should before the action

For Example: He has a meeting in the company today.
tā jīntiān zài ɡōnɡsī kāihuì. 他今天在公司开会。

In addition to sentence structure, some special grammar rules often confuse Chinese learners, especially those who reach intermediate level. Some sentence structures do not place the words in an order that would make sense to the learner. So it is important to learn how Chinese think in order to put the sentence together the way a Chinese person would.

nà shì nǐ yào zhǎo de rén. 那是你要找的人。
nà jiù shì nǐ yào zhǎo de rén. 那就是你要找的人。

Solution: Same as the all the other pieces of advice! However, the most accurate and quickest method is to get help from a professional Chinese teacher.

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