If you are studying Mandarin and want to make only very slow headway, I can personally vouch for the following methods:
- While living in Mainland China, take once per week lessons and neglect to study in-between
- Practice most of your Mandarin with a housekeeper who has a heavy Cantonese accent
- Move to Hong Kong
- Repeatedly waiver between studying simplified or traditional characters
- Take a year off to study Dutch
- Repeatedly waiver between studying Mandarin or Cantonese
Using these effective methods it has taken me an entire decade to achieve an intermediate level of Mandarin.
If you want to improve more quickly than me, there are actually some pretty good resources available. During periods when I actually make big leaps forward, I do the following:
- Take lessons with a native speaker either in person or via Skype (and study in-between)
- Live in Mainland China
- Use the Pleco dictionary
- Use Memrise flashcards to help with character memorization
- Practice reading Chinese at the aptly and simply named Chinese Reading Practice site
- Watch Mandarin videos on FluentU
It’s taken me awhile to refine this list of worthwhile learning resources. Parts of it overlap with the infographic that the folks at Learn Mandarin Now* have compiled. Take a look below. What would you add?
(And can someone please make a list like this for Cantonese? Either that or convince me that I should stop dreaming about speaking Cantonese.)
*They have not compensated me for linking to them or sharing this infographic. They did bring their site to my attention and it seems like a pretty good set of reviews for different Mandarin learning tools.