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Books | Philosophy, Tips | Study Method | Learn and Earn | Review and study

Books I've used and recommend

Far-East 3000 Chinese Character Dictionary

This is my ultimate Chinese learning bible. It has both simplified and traditional characters that are arranged alphabetically according to their pinyin. Each stroke used for writing characters is clearly illustrated. Each character's meaning plus meanings when combined with other characters plus an idiom containing the character is shown. I especially like the frequency table in the back. I used this to learn the most frequent used characters first. Also has  ZhuYin FuHao (bopomo - used in Taiwan) with Radical and Stroke number indexes.

Far-East English Chinese Pinyin Dictionary

My very first Chinese Mandarin Book! Very hand indeed. Can easily fit in your backpack. Word are indexed alphabetically according to pinyin spelling. There are phrases in the back that are very useful.

Tuttle - Leaning Chinese Characters

Definitely one of my favorites! They offer a fun and effective way to remember a character's meaning, pronunciation and tone. If you are a memory buff you will like this book! It uses visualizations and stories to link to the characters. Once you've mastered a few basic characters they are used again to build up more complicated characters! I also like the fun and humor they use to motivate and encourage you as you work through the book. They show progress bars and provide interested tid-bits all the way. The pictures and stories are very well illustrated. Mostly simplified characters but also shows traditional. Appropriate for HSK level A learners.

The Practical Audio Visual series is the absolute benchmark for learning Chinese in Taiwan. It contains all the grammar and vocabulary you will need for a solid foundation. The MP3's are clear, and the grammar is explained very well. Once you've worked through all the books you will be able to have conversations over a very wide range of topics. Also give you insight into Taiwanese culture. Workbooks also available.

Philosophy, Statements and tips for learning Mandarin Chinese

It's better to know and understand 10 words confidently, than to partially know 50 words.

It takes time to study and to make progress.
If you take time to study, there WILL be progress.
REVIEW is of utmost importance.

Everybody learns different, but most people follow the same path and have the same thoughts, ideas, breakthroughs  and problems.

10 minutes of active studying is much better than 10 minutes of complaining about studying.

" I will pick up the language " ok...sure....whatever.....go for it!
" I will pick up a few common words" ...yes...you will!

30 minutes of studying a day makes a big difference.
Set a clear goal before you even start learning...do you only want to learn a few words?..a few sentences?..or do you want to makes proper sentences and have a conversation.
"I only want to learn the basics"...ok..good. Make a list of the "basics" you want to learn, otherwise how will you know if you learned them? 

Most important: Your attitude towards learning.

If you didn't practice saying a sentence/word fluent and clearly with your teacher/classmate/mirror at least 10 times how can you expect to be able to do it in public? think about it. Say the word/ sentence 100 times!! It only takes about two minutes.
Your time in class or with your teacher/tutor should only make up about 35% of you total learning time. Another 35% for total, intensive self review/preview and the 30% should be
attentively watching TV, listening to radio, youtube , listening to podcasts,  reading stories, cartoons and attempting to converse with the locals.
If you decide to study  Mandarin seriously, it should become a habit/routine to have a set "study time" on a daily or weekly basis.

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Hein's Method for a hardcore 30minutes Chinese study session:

This is when using a textbook with new vocabulary and dialogs

1. Study new vocabulary and sentences quickly

2. Read the words/ sentences aloud (don't worry about 100% pronunciation, but it must be aloud and with confidence)

3. Read aloud with CD/MP3 while also looking in the book.

4. Close the book, and read aloud with the CD/MP3 again.

5. Read dialog with CD/MP3.

6. Close the book and listen to the CD/MP3.

7. Review the previous lesson.

Notes: If you study in 30minutes sessions at a time, it's more effective than 1 or 2 hour             sessions.

4 x 30minutes study sessions in a day would be ideal.

Try to focus on fluency, and make proper sentences.
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Learn and Earn

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Money motivates most people
It's important to motivate yourself in creative ways when you are learning a new language. We've all heard the phrase "money makes the world go round" and even though it is considered evil by some, even a small reward can motivate you to learn. I found a nice little trick to motivate me by taking Paid online Surveys in my target language.

Sign up!
There are quite a few web sites available that offer Paid Online Surveys and once you've filtered through all the scams you'll eventually find some worth signing up for. I'm using surveyhead.com. When signing up there'll be a language option where you can state all the languages you are proficient in (choose the language you are learning). According to your profile you'll then be sent surveys as they become available. The surveys can cover anything from online shopping to mobile phones or TV channels.

Repetition, tenses and time control.
What's great about surveys is that they'll keep repeating the "key words".  So you'll get adequate practice in reading sentences that are content related.  It'll also help you to review useful sentences about your  family, working environment, educational background etc. which are the topics most people talk about when first meeting somebody new. Surveys also ask about your past, current and future opinions about their product or service, so you'll get practice in reading different tenses. There is usually a minimum time you have to spend on a survey before getting paid. This helps you to pace yourself because you'll roughly know how long it will take to complete. 

Method and money.
This method is probably suited best for intermediate level learners which already have a vocabulary of a few thousand words. It may be too frustrating for beginners as there will be too many unfamiliar words and sentence structures. When you encounter unfamiliar words you can copy and paste them into an online dictionary to quickly get the meaning. You can also use software that will show a popup of the definition if you hover your mouse cursor over the word. For Mandarin (also available for Japanese and Korean) you can use Perapera.

The  money isn't much, only a few dollars, but you'll be rewarded for your effort and be motivated to keep on pushing yourself.

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