Where to Begin Learning Mandarin

Hey everyone :) 

   I was wondering if anyone had any tips on starting with Mandarin? I'm curious about Mandarin and wanted to look into it just for fun at my own slow pace. So far it's been much more difficult than other languages I'm studying mainly due to the character system. I don't know even where to begin with pronunciation! I don't really understand how the characters work. Can anyone explain?

   If anyone knows of a site with the International Phonetic Alphabet transcriptions of words that would be amazing! I've used Wiktionary in the past for Russian, but I can't search for words because I don't know how to spell in Mandarin. Even when I can find words there it doesn't have the IPA. 

Any tips, or even any music or movies you know of in Mandarin, I would love for you to share!! I literally know nothing. Help plz aha. 

Thank you heaps in advance :) 

All the best 

Mar 12, 2017 6:51 AM
Comments · 6

Hi Andrea,

did you already learn Pinyin? Once you mastered Pinyin, you don't need IPA.

Here is an IPA chart for Mandarin:

Here are explanations why should and how you can learn Pinyin:

Another site with some ideas for learning Pinyin:

Here are my top resources for Chinese learners:

Hacking Chinese: Loads of tips for beginners, intermediate and advanced learner and for all skills.

Chinese Forums: Here you can ask any question about Chinese that you might have and native-speakers as well as experienced learners are there to help.

Pleco: The best Chinese-English dictionary app.

You can pm me, if you need help. 

Jiayou! 加油!

March 12, 2017

The transcription system that Jack suggests is called Zhuyin or Bopomofo and is mainly used in Taiwan, whereas Pinyin is used in mainland China.

Here you can find a comparison of Pinyin and Zhuyin:

Here is a phonetic chart for Zhuyin and further links:

March 12, 2017

You may try "ㄅㄆㄇㄈ" which is alternatively another useful phonetic system to help you grab the tips of Mandarin pronunciation within 2 weeks. Your target is also important to reach any of the language in the world , so if you have more specific goal to achieve, that might be more helpful for Mandarin speakers or teachers to give you relevant advice. 

Good luck to you

March 12, 2017

You cannot learn Mandarin through watching movie or music. It's not a right way.

In my view, you should learn some simple characters and PinYin firstly.

PinYin can help u speak Mandarin with right prounciation.

In addition, simple characters would make u understand the composition of Chinese characters.

All Chinese characters are constituted by three basic methods. (In fact, I don't know how to translate these methods.)

However, don't be worry. A large number of ppl who speak Mandarin are willing to help each other in learning languages.

April 9, 2017

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao Tsu

You have already begun your journey, Andrea!


April 9, 2017
Show more