Learning Mandarin – The fangirl way


I dread to think how many hours of my life I have spent devoted to watching ‘Running Man’ and listening to Kpop, Jpop and all the other pops you can think of. Have you ever thought of how many hours you’ve racked up watching, listening and consuming foreign media without being able to string a sentence in that language?

That’s me!

I’ve always wanted to be bilingual! (GCSE school French doesn’t count for me! It went in one ear and out the other) so this year I decided I was going to try and learn a language. Rather than Japanese or Korean (which would have been easier in many ways since I’m more inclined to listen to it!) I decided I would learn Mandarin.

Why? Mandarin? I found it really hard to learn on my own. I’ve  tried podcasts and various other things but I really needed someone to help me out. It’s been enjoyable learning something new so far but I needed new ways to absorb the language rather than having my nose stuck in a book.

So I thought I’d share a few fun ways to learn Mandarin – the fangirl way!

1. Watching dramas

Watching dramas is the perfect way to complement your studies! Especially if you work during the day, all you need to do is watch one episode and you get to enjoy something fluffy whilst testing out your listening skills! I also find that the more you watch dramas, the more you’ll be able to pick up some little phrases here and there. I’ve not actually watched a drama from Mainland China before BUT I have enjoyed some Taiwanese dramas. Lately I’ve been watching OFFICE GIRLS.

2. Listening to MPOP! 

One of the first things you are taught when learning Mandarin is PINYIN which is the romanized version of Chinese (it’s what you use to type in Chinese). I found it quite difficult at first trying to read and pronounce sounds that I had never used before.

So what I did was take a mandarin song and googled the pinyin lyrics. Then I tried to ‘sing’ along. Usually there would be a point where I’d pronounce something wrong whilst reading the pinyin. Over time I could correct myself so that I pronounced the pinyin correctly!

My foray into Chinese music is SUPER JUNIOR M. It might not be the best example since a lot of the members are Korean and I have no idea how accurate their mandarin is (if it’s not sung but Zhou Mi or Henry) BUT it’s a fun start!

3. Watch Variety Shows

I consumed a LOT of Japanese variety shows over the years and that really made a huge difference in my understanding of basic Japanese. I’m trying to find some Chinese shows to enjoy but again I have only found some Super Junior M videos. One show is called ‘Celebrity Tour Guides’ – which is about them touring Taiwan and learning Chinese! You can find all the episodes here. I really like this because they speak very slow but understandable Mandarin.

Another show in a similar vein comes from Japanese boy band, Arashi (in my opinion they are the kings of variety shows!). They have a couple of episodes where they learn Chinese in order to prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. These episodes come from their show Mago Mago Arashi. I would definitely watch the whole series including the non Chinese episodes – it’s such a lovely show.

Those are a few of my tips! If you have any more interesting ways to learn do let me know in the comments!



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