For all Mandarin Chinese language learners, speaking Chinese fluently is a hugely important learning goal. And trust us: for everyone, being able to speak Chinese fluent, confident and naturally is an achievable goal. Yet every Chinese language learner is different: some people find the pronunciation is difficult; some people think the grammar is difficult to master, and others think memorizing and using Chinese vocabularies in the proper way is a huge obstacle. In speaking Chinese, all these factors come together. But don’t worry, there are bunches of ways to improve your Chinese speaking skills in a reasonably short period of time. Here are some tips to enhance your Chinese speaking skills.
Talk with native Chinese speakers
If it’s possible to find a conversation partner, the best is to find a native Chinese speaker with whom you can practice your Chinese. A lot of Chinese seniors speak Mandarin in a thick accent or a local dialect, so it’s better to talk to young Chinese people. If you don’t know anyone in your direct network, consider finding a Mandarin tutor.
Speak to yourself and make a recording
You can always improve your Chinese speaking skills on your own. Try speaking your thoughts out loud: maybe how your day has been. It’s good practice to make a recording and then have a native speaker or Chinese tutor to correct your mistakes.
Be confident in speaking Chinese
Get prepared for some specific situations or topics. Before you go to a place where you have to speak Chinese, you can practice what you might have to say. If you’re preparing to go to a restaurant, what conversations in Chinese will you have? Think about the questions a Chinese waiter might ask you. Try talking about food and menus in your mind. In this way, you’ll feel more confident and motivated talk in Chinese. Another tip: persist to use Chinese even if the waiter can also speak English. You are the customer and the customer is king!
Expand your Chinese vocabulary
When you’re a child, you learn words as people around you point to items and teach you what they are called. You can adopt the same approach when learning the Mandarin Chinese language: it all begins with vocabulary. You can choose to learn a certain number of words each day. It doesn’t need to be a lot, maybe just one or two words per day, but the most important thing is to try to use it as much as possible.
Practice with Chinese songs and videos
Use music to memorize Chinese words. Listen and learn to sing Chinese songs. Singing along to your favorite Chinese songs will help you become more fluent and help you with tones (and: better at singing!). This is a tried-and-true language learning method that’s backed by science. Once you can sing along to pop singers like 邓紫棋 (Dèng Zǐqí) and 王力宏 (Wáng Lìhóng), you can test your skills with something a bit more difficult: rap!
You can choose to watch TV shows, movies, YouTube videos, or other natural speech in Chinese to practice sounding natural. Find a short clip that you like, or that uses words that you’d use in real life, then repeat it line by line. (GoEast’s Beyond Class is good material.) Try to match the tone, speed, and even the accent (if you can). It doesn’t matter if you miss a few words, the important thing is to keep talking. Try to sound just like the native speakers.
Surround yourself with the Chinese language
In many places around the world, there is a China town or a Chinese community, where you can find menus, marketing materials, books, movies, road signs, and more things in the Chinese language. The more you immerse yourself and pay attention to these daily pieces of Chinese, the stronger your foundation will be. And if you really live in a small town, use the internet! Try to listen to Chinese as much as you can.
So, off you go! Choose your preferred method to improve your Chinese language speaking with the methods that are right for you. Do not forget to practice as much as possible.