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Learning Chinese is a valuable skill, and the two main ways to master it are through speaking and reading. While speaking lets you practice the sounds and rhythms of the language, reading helps you understand its structure and culture. Both are equally important and together, they can help learners grasp the language more effectively.

The Importance of Speaking Chinese When Learning

Talking with people who grew up speaking Chinese is a big help for anyone trying to learn the language. Here are some important reasons why:

Practice 

As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” Speaking Mandarin gives students the opportunity to practice their command of the language. And by interacting with those who have grown up with Mandarin as their primary language, learners are exposed to the most authentic and natural use of the language. 

This lets them pick up on the right intonations and rhythms which makes it easier for students to more naturally speak the language. 

Additionally, these interactions often introduce them to colloquialisms and slang, enriching their vocabulary and allowing them to communicate more effectively with native speakers. Such hands-on experiences solidify their learning and foster a deeper connection with the language.

One of the easiest ways to practice Chinese is by immersing oneself in a Mandarin-speaking community. This forces students to actively use the language for daily activities such as ordering food or speaking with people. Through this, they begin to actively recall words and grammar rules on the spot which strengthens their memory and command of the language.

Real-time Feedback

Mistakes are an essential part of learning, which is why it’s important to make them. By speaking Mandarin regularly with other people, learners can receive immediate feedback on their pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. 

This real-time correction helps them identify and rectify their errors quickly, leading to faster improvement. Furthermore, these interactions provide a safe environment for students to experiment with the language, helping them gain confidence and become more resilient learners.

It should be noted in this instance that every student reacts to feedback differently. Learners need to be reminded that feedback in all its forms should not be taken personally and should instead be used as an opportunity for learning. 

At the same time, educators and parents should ensure that any feedback given to students is constructive and delivered in a gentle manner.

Builds Confidence

While trying to communicate in an unfamiliar language can be quite challenging, it’s important to keep trying. Over time with practice and familiarisation, it becomes easier and more natural for students to communicate in mandarin.

This allows them to start and continue conversations in Mandarin and helps them to make fewer mistakes. All of which contributes to higher levels of confidence which encourages learners to continue on their journey.

Additionally, research has revealed that building confidence tends to lead to better learning outcomes. When students feel confident, they become more willing to try new things i.e. begin conversations and are not afraid of making mistakes. .

The Importance of Reading in Chinese

Like speaking, reading is also equally important when learning Chinese. Reading allows students to engage with the language in a deeper, more structured way and helps to grow their vocabulary. Other benefits include:

Character Recognition

Recognizing Chinese characters is foundational to reading and understanding written Mandarin.

Unlike alphabetic languages, Mandarin letters cannot be sounded out phonetically. Because of this, it’s important for learners to familiarise themselves with the characters, so that they can better comprehend texts, from street signs to news articles.

Furthermore, understanding the root components of characters can also aid in guessing the meanings of unfamiliar ones, leading to a broader vocabulary and more in-depth understanding over time.

Cultural Literacy

Chinese characters often have historical or cultural stories behind them, and reading Chinese literature or even everyday materials can provide insight into Chinese culture, values, and traditions. 

Being literate in Chinese allows learners to access a rich tapestry of historical texts, modern literature, and cultural nuances that aren’t always translated or may lose their essence when they are. 

This literacy, in turn, can foster deeper connections and understanding when communicating with native speakers.

Enhancing Overall Language Skills

Reading complements the other aspects of language learning like speaking, listening, and writing. For instance, as learners encounter new vocabulary or grammatical structures in texts, they can integrate these into their spoken language. 

Simultaneously, seeing words and structures they’ve spoken about written down can reinforce their understanding and retention. Reading widely and regularly also helps in familiarising with sentence structures, improving both comprehension and composition skills.

The Symbiotic Relationship of Speaking and Reading

Speaking and reading in Chinese are two sides of the same coin. While speaking provides real-time practice and interaction, reading offers deeper dives into vocabulary, grammar, and context. 

Reading out loud can also be a powerful tool, as it combines visual recognition of characters with auditory processing and pronunciation practice. When learners engage in both speaking and reading, each activity reinforces the other, creating a cycle of continuous improvement and enhanced fluency.

Closing Thoughts

To sum up, both speaking and reading are key when learning Chinese. Speaking helps build confidence and get feedback, while reading enhances understanding and connection to Chinese culture. For anyone serious about learning Chinese, why not reach out to MandarinStars