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Baby Steps Learning Chinese : Introduction (Perfectly Newbie)

chinese-languageI got few emails asking me how I starting to learn Chinese and how long it took me to come this far. And the answers always be determination, commitment, keep motivated, persistence and willingness to learn without making lame excuse, no time. These things aren’t secret since everyone who went through the process going to give almost same answers, no exceptional me.

But, even though you have armored yourselves with these things, still you going to ask, how to start? What the basic? What should I learn for the very first time? What book should I purchase in order to take my first step?

I’m not an expert, just a learner like you. I’m not suggesting that my way is the way, and there are almost certainly more efficient learning paths out there. But when I was starting out, I would have learned whatever caught my interest.

Let’s start Fellow readers….

Basic is one of the most important foundation to build up your linguistic competency. As for me, no matter how I dislike Bo Po Mo Fo (注Zhu 音 Yin 字 Zi 母 Mu or sound-notating alphabet), I still need to learn it as basic for my further learning especially learning Traditional characters which used by the Taiwanese. And then learning Han Yu Pin Yin (汉Han 语 Yu 拼 Pin 音 Yin or spelled sounds). Alike in Bahasa Indonesia and also English, we have alphabets (ABC) both of Zhu Yin Zi Mu and Han Yu Pin Yin are also served as alphabets in Chinese Language.

Once you master this essential basic, the next focus is tone. Standard Chinese Mandarin has five Tones, they are (Source wikipedia):

  1. The first tone (Flat or High Level Tone) is represented by a macron (ˉ) added to the pinyin vowel:
    ā (ɑ̄) ē ī ō ū ǖ Ā Ē Ī Ō Ū Ǖ
  2. The second tone (Rising or High-Rising Tone) is denoted by an acute accent (ˊ):
    á (ɑ́) é í ó ú ǘ Á É Í Ó Ú Ǘ
  3. The third tone (Falling-Rising or Low Tone) is marked by a caron/háček (ˇ). It is not the rounded breve (˘), though a breve is sometimes substituted due to font limitations.
    ǎ (ɑ̌) ě ǐ ǒ ǔ ǚ Ǎ Ě Ǐ Ǒ Ǔ Ǚ
  4. The fourth tone (Falling or High-Falling Tone) is represented by a grave accent (ˋ):
    à (ɑ̀) è ì ò ù ǜ À È Ì Ò Ù Ǜ
  5. The fifth tone (Neutral Tone) is represented by a normal vowel without any accent mark:
    a (ɑ) e i o u ü A E I O U Ü

My first book when I learn Chinese Mandarin at school was first grade text book (primary school competency) according to Singaporean Government Standard and also Taiwanese Standard for traditional/complicated Chinese Mandarin. I learned simplified and traditional Chinese at same time.


Singapore Reference
These were kind of books which I used as my text book to learn Chinese. Inside these books there were lot of short stories and easy to read moreover the first and second have Han Yi Pin Yin to help you to read the characters, they also included note and also the way how to write (stroke by stroke).


Taiwanese Reference
Similar with the Singaporean text book, the Taiwanese also included Zhu Yin Zi Mu to ease the learner to study Chinese.

This is my baby steps approach to learn Chinese. There are lots of other great resources out there, and I am always keep my eyes open for new stuff. And this what I shared was one that worked for me.

Do you enjoy this post? Have you learned something? Should I continue to post something related to learn Chinese? Let me hear what your opinions ^_^

My note:
There are many ways to say Chinese language such as:

  • 中Zhong 文Wen : Literally mean middle language usually used by Indonesian.
  • 普 Pu 通 Tong 话 Hua: Literally mean common speech usually used by mainland Chinese.
  • 国 / 國 Guo 语 / 語 Yu: Literally mean National Language usually used by Taiwanese.
  • 华 / 華 Hua 语 / 語 Yu: Literally mean Literature usually used by Singaporean, Malaysian or other Asian countries.

5 thoughts on “Baby Steps Learning Chinese : Introduction (Perfectly Newbie)

  1. I’m actually taking Chinese at my high school. I’ve gotten to the third level but… I learn a lot of useless vocabulary…. T-T I’m doing it because I am Chinese American (*whispers parent pressure) and I want to read Chinese novels that aren’t translated yet but the synopses…. I really want to read them… However my parents agree that I’m terrible (terrible memory) but I am slowly learning. So if you want to learn, just keep at it! Thanks Azurro and have a nice day.

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