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Is it difficult to teach yourself Chinese?

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Would you like to know how to learn Chinese from scratch, but don’t have the slightest idea where to start? Well, don’t worry. Though more and more people are taking up this language, it’s still far from a common choice. What’s more, when it comes to Chinese, we often encounter the added fear that this language might just be too difficult to learn.

In this article, we want to show you that learning Chinese is far from impossible. It’s true that the alphabet and phonetics are very different from other languages. However, if you follow the right steps, you’re sure to succeed in mastering the Chinese language.

Is it difficult to teach yourself Chinese?

There is no clear-cut answer to this question. However, what we can tell you is that learning Chinese won’t be difficult if you follow the right methods and put in the effort and work it truly requires. In this article, we’re going to offer you a few tips on how to successfully learn Chinese from scratch.

For most people, one of the most common statements we hear about the Chinese language is that the characters of its alphabet are difficult to understand. In reality, you don’t need to memorize all these characters in order to learn the language. This is because all Chinese words can be phonetically transcribed using our Latin alphabet. This is known as the “pinyin” method. So, we already have the solution to our first obstacle. When you’re just starting out, there’s no need to know how to write Chinese characters.

Another false belief is that Chinese grammatical rules are very complicated for English speakers. This is not the case. The Chinese language has no conjugations, and there’s nothing overly convoluted about its grammar. The only thing you really need to do is learn a few basic rules. For example, in Chinese, you don’t say “I am hot” – instead, you say “I hot”.

That’s much easier and more concise than our language, right? We tend to believe the opposite is true, but, in reality, English is much harder to learn for a foreigner.

Although it’s true that Chinese is a language that’s very different from any western language, it’s really not all that complicated to learn. One thing that may significantly boost your learning is to also learn a little about the culture of the Chinese people, as well as their way of thinking and understanding life.

As we mentioned earlier, learning a language can be frustrating at first, particularly if it’s a language as exotic as Chinese. For this reason, motivation is key and you’ll need to work to maintain it at all times, even if you don’t see results right away. This is equally true whether you sign up to a course to learn the language or if you prefer to teach yourself.

Is it difficult to teach yourself Chinese?

What tools will I need?

Here are a few keys to get started learning the language on your own. Read on to discover a list of some of the basic tools you can make use of:

Line Dictionary

This is an app similar to WhatsApp and a market leader in countries like Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. It offers a dictionary in which you can search for a specific word or character from the database. Within this database, you’ll find all the possible meanings for the term in question.


Here, we have a pop-up dictionary and a tool available as an add-on for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Once installed and activated, you can mark characters on any Chinese website you visit. After indicating your chosen character, a window will open in which you’ll be able to see the correct pronunciation of the term, and its meaning.


FluentU is a YouTube database designed in Mandarin. In it, you can find any video you want, with subtitles in Chinese. What’s more, the videos are ordered by level of difficulty and format. What more could you ask for?

PopUp Chinese

This tool brings together a huge number of podcasts and tools for learning Mandarin. To benefit from it, all you need to do is create an account (free of charge) and enjoy access to the entire archive.

Marco Polo Project

On this site, you’ll find the very best of modern Chinese literature. Thanks to this tool, you can practice your skills and join a community that encourages cultural exchange.

As you can see, we’ve listed a few of the tools available to help you get started learning – but there are many more to choose from. Chinese is a tonal monosyllabic language. As such, the most complicated aspect for us is understanding how to use intonations in pronunciation.

Intonation is fundamental because, in this language, one word can have various meanings according to the intonation used in its pronunciation.

According to the experts, it takes around 100 hours of intense learning to understand Chinese. Of course, you should bear mind that your learning will be quicker and more fluid if you enlist the help of a teacher who will be able to point out any mistakes. With them, you’ll be able to practice as if you were in China. We at Blarlo will help you understand how to start learning Chinese from scratch with the help of the best professionals – it’s time to make your dream a reality. We can’t wait to hear from you!

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish) Français (French) Deutsch (German)