One of the misconceptions that people often have about learning Chinese is that it is a really difficult language to master. Many associate it with cramming thousands of characters and struggling with tones, believing that it takes years and years of learning to even reach an intermediate level.
However, this is far from the truth. We are not saying learning Chinese is a piece of cake – it does present a number of challenges and difficulties to some learners. But it is not as hard as people make it out to be and is also a lot more fun than many people imagine.
In fact, having fun when you learn Chinese is essential to mastering the language successfully. In this article, we are going to take a look at how you can have fun when learning Chinese and what makes it so important.
Having Fun Keeps You Motivated
There is a common belief that anything worthwhile requires hard work, including mastering a foreign language. Language learning does require patience, effort, and ample practice. However, hard work and fun are not at all mutually exclusive.
Multiple research projects have shown that having fun has a significant positive effect on learning in general. It increases students’ motivation levels, helping them learn more effectively and retain more of what they learn. It keeps students curious and makes them want to ‘come back for more’.
Happy Hormones Promote Learning
One of the major reasons for that are the so-called ‘happy hormones’: when we have fun learning, our brain releases more dopamine and endorphin, which promote learning, motivate us, and help retain new information.
When people have fun learning, they are also more likely to improvise, experiment, and try new things, which is quite important when learning a foreign language: cramming and standard exercises will only take you so far, the rest is done with communication, creativity, and independent practice.
Apart from that, having fun is great for people’s mental health, which makes for a better quality of life and general, and more effective learning in particular.
Boredom Slows Progress
We all can exercise our power of will, of course, and trudge through hard boring chores when we have to. And there may be some things about learning Chinese that you will find hard or not very enjoyable. But if you find the whole process boring and tedious your progress will very likely be extremely slow – if there will be any progress at all.
So, having fun is not just an option if you want to learn Chinese – it is practically a must. But what exactly can you do to have fun when learning Chinese? Read on to find out.
How To Have Fun When Studying Chinese
By now, hopefully, you are convinced that having fun is essential for mastering the Chinese language effectively. But what exactly does ‘having fun’ mean with regards to language learning?
On the one hand, ‘fun’ is a very individual notion: we all enjoy different things and thus consider different things ‘fun’. On the other hand, there are a few general things that you can try to add a bit more variety and more fun to your learning process. Here are some of the things you can do.
We may all like different games, but most people will probably agree that games are fun. Well, you can use games to make learning Chinese a bit more fun. Nowadays there are tons of language games available online that you can use to practice vocabulary, learn grammar, improve your listening, all while having a bit of fun. If your language level allows it, you can also try playing regular computer games available in Chinese. Games may be challenging at first, but playing them is a great way to immerse yourself in the language.
Here are a few online language learning games you could try:
The Magistrate’s Gallery – 县长的画廊
Nowadays, it is all about entertainment and fun content: movies and TV shows, blogs, YouTube channels, music… Chinese is one of the world’s most spoken languages, and any type of content you consume in your native language is most likely available in Chinese. Even if your Chinese level is not very high, there are resources for learners that are not only about learning but about fun as well.
Here are some fun You Tube Channels for learning Chinese:
ChinesePod Traditional Characters
Make More Friends
Everything is more fun when you do it with a friend. You can share your experience, exchange tips, and support each other while learning. If you don’t have any friends who are also learning Chinese, you can use social media and language exchange websites (such as Interpals) to meet fellow learners and Chinese speakers for language practice.
The general idea is to find what you enjoy and combine it with learning Chinese. If you like traveling, you can play a travel-themed vocabulary game, read a blog about traveling, and make travel plans with a friend. If you enjoy cooking, you can watch a cooking show or join a cooking-themed forum.
Lucky for you, Chinese is a wide-spread language that is very popular among learners. As a Chinese language student you will have no trouble finding fun Chinese content that matches your language level and your interests.
Have Fun Learning Chinese in The Classroom
Having fun learning Chinese in the classroom environment is just as important as for independent practice. The advantages are all the same: increased motivation and creativity, more effective learning and, well, more fun!
A Fun Mandarin Lesson at Q Language – Making Cocktails Using Chinese Only!
To give you an idea of the kind of fun Chinese lessons you can expect at Q language, here’s a short video overview of a recent Mandarin lesson. Our students really enjoyed practising their Mandarin language skills as they prepared cocktails using Chinese instructions.
Choose Teachers You Like
The issue is, in the classroom we as students do not have much control over the learning process and the activities that take place. But if you have the opportunity to choose, choose teachers whose company you enjoy and language schools that make the learning process more fun.
Nowadays many online and offline schools offer demo lessons that you cat take for free or at a reduced price before you commit to a complete course.
Fun Stuff to do in Class
Although we don’t always associate classroom learning with fun, there is actually a lot of fun to be had in the classroom learning Chinese, including some things you wouldn’t be able to do on your own. Here are a few examples:
- Various language games using authentic materials
- Group discussions
- Group projects
- Creative assignments
- Learning through music, films, books, and other authentic Chinese content
Learning With Others is Always More Fun!
Unlike learning by yourself, in the classroom, you have a dedicated group of fellow learners that you can share your experience with, discuss exciting topics (in Chinese, of course), and role-play real-life situations.
The Classroom is a Great Place to Practice Speaking Chinese
One of the disadvantages of learning by yourself is the lack of good speaking practice. Even if people consider you a fun person to speak to, you won’t go far by speaking to yourself only. The classroom is a great place for discussions and conversations that are both productive and fun.
In the classroom setting, you also benefit greatly from the presence of a teacher. Having fun when learning has very few disadvantages, but one of them is the possibility of getting carried away by the fun and not doing much learning in the process. A good teacher will offer the right balance of fun and learning, provide guidance, feedback, and support.
On the one hand, learning Chinese is not all fun and games. There are aspects of the language that you may find challenging, some learning activities may seem boring. It is after all called learning and any learning requires some effort.
On the other hand, you can have a lot of fun when learning Chinese: make new friends, play games, watch movies, browse the web, and much more. Find the things you enjoy and do them in Chinese.
Having fun not only makes the learning process more exciting – it makes it much more efficient.
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