Learning Chinese is difficult (but not as hard as many people make it look) — and it’s slightly easier when you live in China because you’ll be surrounded by the Chinese language all day. Not just will you see Hanzi characters more and hear the language spoken more, it’ll also boost your motivation.
But worry not! Here’s why and how you can learn Chinese when not in China.
Why learn Chinese even if you don’t plan on living in China?
There are plenty of reasons why Chinese language students learn Chinese for purposes outside of China. The Chinese language has over one billion speakers, and especially in industries such as tourism, learning Chinese is useful. Many Chinese tourists flock to Thailand or Japan, where staff from big hotels is able to speak Chinese. GoEast also has many students who work in other industries (such as finance) and want to learn Chinese to use in their home country, to do business with Chinese companies. A third commonly heard reason is to watch Chinese TV series!
Why you don’t have to live in China to learn Chinese
Two big reasons. First online Chinese courses are just as good as offline courses. We’ve been teaching online since 2016 and added HSK4 in 2020. These courses are constantly maturing. At GoEast Mandarin, our offline and online Chinese courses inspire each other and we see no quality difference between online and offline students. Both methods have their benefits and downsides.
Secondly, immersion is great but overrated for beginners. Also Olle Linge makes this point. Immersion works great if know a lot, but for beginners it’s only a little bit of help at best. There are foreigners who’ve lived in Shanghai for over 10 years and barely speak any Mandarin.
Thirdly, there is plenty of ‘immersion’ you can build from home too. Chinese is spoken all around the world, and if not in your village, then in a big city nearby you will be able to find a Chinese community. You can find language exchanges online or offline, watch movies or listen to Chinese music, podcasts in Chinese, graded Chinese readers, etcetera. These tips are also mentioned on Quora.
Obviously, it’ll be great if we can welcome you at our campus in the Shanghai French Concession, or in Yangpu. In Shanghai you’ll meet millions of people to speak Chinese with — but nowadays you can definitely learn Chinese from your bedroom. Plus, Chinese tourists and Chinese businessmen and businesswomen travel all over the world, so they’ll also bring potential conversations to you.