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!)
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. 😛