Listening to and engaging with a language using multiple skills is the best way to learn and immerse yourself in a new language. Short of traveling to the country, where you can hear native speakers and communicate for everyday tasks, advances in technology allow learners to soak in a new language and culture while lounging at home.
The edutech industry has boomed over the last 2 years as covid kept us indoors and constantly in search of something stimulating, fun and interactive. Many people joined Inchin Closers Mandarin language classes to have something constructive and productive to do as the days of lockdown continued. Schools, universities, stay at home moms who had previously mastered a language, set up classrooms from their bedrooms and started teaching various skills including foreign languages that would open up a whole new world to professionals globally. Suddenly, you weren’t confined to the perils of a physical premise – rent, maintenance, traffic, geographical proximity, with zoom or google classrooms, the world was now your oyster.
Technology quickly enabled teachers, to interact with students worldwide, make classes social, fun and generate exercises and worksheets to easily analyse a students progress using specific data markers. We replaced in person, non-verbal communication with software that would not only help us analyse a students language ability, but could also help the teacher improve curriculum and teaching techniques.
Voila! Was the birth of new games, apps, video binging, songs and movies all of which helped students to learn a new language! Since there are so many resources out there now, (No we aren’t looking at complicating your lives, by asking you to Switch the language of your car navigation system to Chinese) Inchin Closer has compiled a few resources that have helped our previous students, and we hope they help you too!
The hugely popular English language game where you have to guess a new word everyday is now in Mandarin! You can choose to play Wordle in either pinyin or in Chinese characters. But whats most fascinating about the pinyin wordle is that its based on Chengyu’s – or four character chinese idioms. This not only challenges your chinese language skills, but also helps you understand the culture better! In fact, Wordle in Chinese is called 拼音猜成语 – which literally means Pinyin Guess Chengyu.
The Inchin App, uses interactive stories and AI powered speech recognition technology to help students practice Mandarin. Learning through stories has proven to be a highly effective way of learning a new culture, language or as a medium to pass down tradition and ethics. The format not only puts content in an interesting and retentive mould but also creates an logical narrative which helps learners through situational understanding. In the Inchin app, learners are able to select their way forward in a story by speaking into the microphone with a clear, correct pronunciation. This helps, chinese language learners to improve their pronunciation and Chinese listening skills. At the end of the story, learners are given feedback based on their pronunciation, fluency and accuracy of language.
The Inchin app also has vocabulary and character writing practice categorised by frequency of use and based on the new HSK curriculum. This will help learners to learn new chinese words and characters, practice their meaning, tones and learn the right stroke order for each. This is a great resource to practice Mandarin skills before the HSK test. The share button also lets you see how you’ve scored in comparison to your friends and peers!
Besides the Inchin App, there are multiple apps that help learners practice Mandarin based on different skills sets. Duolingo, Pleco, Memrise, Hello Chinese and Skritter are three great apps you can download and start using right away.
Once a song gets into your head, it’s often difficult to get it out. This is therefore a highly effective and entertaining way to immerse yourself in a new language. The best part about learning Mandarin via songs is that they are short, can be heard anytime, anywhere and for however long you please.
Realising that learning Chinese via songs can be addictive, Inchin Closer has created an open spotify playlist. Its a list of our favourite songs compiled by our teachers and students. You can access it here. The spotify playlist is open to all students of Mandarin at every HSK level. Find your favourite tracks and immerse yourself in China while you walk, commute to work or just chill out with friends.
Movies and TV shows
Watching movies is another great way to immerse and engage with a new language. Being audio-visual this medium works best for all kinds of learners and at all levels. With OTT and video streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon prime showcasing world movies access to Chinese films, is right on your thumb!
There is a list of recommended TV shows from HSK 3 level Inchin students – Untamed, Meteor garden, Falling into my smile, Love scenery, Parallel Love, Love equation, Love 020, You are my glory and Put Your Head On My Shoulder.
Its prudent to start learning Chinese from childrens movies as the characters usually have a simpler vocabulary which is easy to follow. Films like Mulan in Mandarin are highly recommended.
Netflix also has an option to get subtitles in pinyin, so if you are new to learning Mandarin and are an HSK 1 or HSK 2 student, select the option of pinyin subtitles, this will help you to improve your pronunciation and learn new words while in a fun, story setting. To access search Language Learning with Netflix
If you’d rather watch small snipets which are graded according to the HSK levels and have exercises that follow, it would be helpful to download the paid version of fluentu, a fantastic website and app that helps learners practice Mandarin via short video clips and associated exercises.
Getting to know the locals, especially if there is a language barrier is difficult. It’s a kind of catch 22 situation – you will find friends if you speak their language, you need to speak their language to get friends. At Inchin Closer, we understand your dilemma, and therefore suggest you reach out to us to connect you with locals. We recently connected one of our HSK 2 students, also a hindi teacher with a Chinese student who was learning Hindi in Shanghai! The result, was a lively, weekly language exchange, where she taught him hindi for an hour, and he helped improve her chinese pronunciation and understanding of culture for an hour. Language exchanges are free of cost, with each offering their time and resources generously. The language exchange worked so well, it still continues a year later, with each talking about their daily lives, the global situation, cultural similarities, festivals and personal anecdotes.
If you already have a few colleagues or friends in China, take that step and reach out to them. Chinese people are usually very warm and friendly. They are interested in knowing more about Indian culture and are happy to share their language and culture with foreigners. Connect with your Chinese clients or colleagues via wechat or email initially since they don’t have access to whatsapp or facebook. Inchin Closer highly believes that people to people connections between our nations will help build better trust and understanding amongst the China and India.
The last bit of advice is date a Chinese. Get a Chinese boyfriend or Chinese girlfriend a person you’d like to hang out with all the time. Being in a relationship with a Chinese person will improve your Mandarin by miles!