Learn Mandarin through Chinese Character Canon

Have you ever wanted to learn Mandarin but do not know where or how to start? One of the methods of learning Mandarin is Chinese Character Canon.

For the longest time, I’ve been trying hard (in the truest sense of the words “trying hard”) to learn the Chinese language.

When my daughters are having tutorials, I would sit close by and listen. I have a nice CD of Chinese love songs in the car that I listen to once in a while, hoping that, through subconscious suggestion, I will one day start singing along.

Whenever they (husband and kids) are watching Chinese flicks, I’d watch along too (as if I understood a fourth of whatever was going on in the movie). Buti na lang, my I.Q. is above average (kuno, hehehe) so my guesses on the plot goings-on are usually correct. (Naah, some Chinese movies are just too predictable!)

The thing is – the Chinese language is very complex. It does not work like the English language, which has 26 letters put together to make up words. There is no alphabet in the Chinese language, only characters – over 80,000 characters! Of course, only about 1,000 characters are required to be basically conversant and literate.

But even so, how long does it take to learn a thousand characters effectively? My 12-year old daughter, who has been studying in a Chinese school for eight years, will probably recognize about 300 characters ( I am not even sure of this). As for mastered characters, the count will probably come under 200. Because her interest to learn isn’t very high at the moment, how much she is able to learn is also affected. (Schools should make Chinese studies fun and interesting!)

learn mandarin Chinese character canon
My textbooks and nametag. Yep, iMom is Tsai Jia Wen.

In January of this year, the center where my kids have Chinese tutorials offered a Mandarin course. The course, called Chinese Character Canon, utilizes a non-conventional method to learn Mandarin. It is totally different from Hanyu Pinyin, where Chinese characters have phonetic equivalents in the English alphabet. Hanyu Pinyin is the system used by my kids’ school, and is slowly being adopted by more schools in the Philippines.

Chinese Character Canon is different, in that it uses a poem –  a very long poem composed of 4,000 non-repeating characters. At the end of the complete course, one is supposedly guaranteed to master all 4,000 unique characters. I signed up for the first phase, where I will learn 1,000 characters in six months.

Being a non-native speaker, the greatest difficulty lies in enunciating the words with confidence. Because the method incorporates repetition and repetition as the key elements of learning, my confidence in speaking is now somehow better than when I was just self-learning.

One month into the course, my vocabulary is now 200-characters rich. I could safely say I have some level of mastery for half of those characters. The early lessons dealt with Astronomy, Geography, and Family Values.

In six months, let’s see where I’ll be. I hope to have learned Mandarin by then. 😛

The center where I learn Mandarin is Dash Cultural and Educational Institute Inc. Website is here. No, I was not paid to blog about it, although my course fee is discounted by 50% because I was one of the first ones to sign up. 😛

20 thoughts on “Learn Mandarin through Chinese Character Canon

  1. Hi sis, when I was younger, all my playmates were Chinese. Hayun, natuto ako magbilang lang and mag greet. When they converse, medyo na ge- gets ko rin. Ok yan, keep it up. Ako am planning to take courses on Spanish language naman…

  2. Hi 7th! Naku, I’m really bad bad bad with tags, but I will do my best to do this one. You’re the second one who has tagged me with this, so I must do it na hehe.

    Wow, I’m flattered that you like reading my blog. *blush* Thank you, thank you. 🙂


  3. Many of my college friends are Chinese. Natutuwa ako kasi their young kids know how to speak english, tagalog and chinese. Kids daw are capable of learning 7 languages at the same time.
    Good luck on your Mandarin lessons. Keep up the good work.

  4. Hi iMom!  I was searching thru web for summer courses for Chinese for kids  and chanced upon your blog…i like your sharing/blog story! thanks for sharing.
    May i know the name of the Chinese school of your kid? and the tutorial center for Chinese?
    Naghahanapp rin kasi ako for kids… for summer activities lang…pwedeng malaman how much are their rates?  Thanks!

  5. Hi GAC! My kids attend DASH Center on Hemady St, New Manila. QC. There are ongoing summer programs now, but I don’t have the schedule with me now. You can call this number, 5667179 and speak with Mrs. Sofia Chua. She is one of the teachers and owners of the center.

    Thanks for the visit! I will do my best to post here on my blog the summer program sked soon. 

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  7. I’ve also been trying to learn Chinese for quite some time now and Chinese classes are not an option – all for the simple reason that I’m much older than the people in my class. I’ve been trying alternative methods like audio tapes, grammar text books and Chinese learning softwares. Which ones have you found to work best for you?

  8. Hi Daniw. Mine started with a very small group of three students. Because we were adults and busy with a lot of other things, my two other classmates dropped out and I ended up getting one-on-one classes.

  9. Hi Imom! Chanced upon your blog. So how was your vocabulary now? I’ve been meaning to learn Chinese but never got to it for lots of reasons. Now this year I’ve resolved to learn. Reading through the comments the location is way too far from Bacoor, Cavite where I live.
    Oh well, I’ll keep looking. Wish you luck on your lessons and hey, more power to your blog! It’s good!

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