Good Study Habits to Master Chinese Quickly

While you don’t need to be fluent in Chinese. Speaking Chinese will offer immense benefit over your lifetime. This is even more true for your children.

1. Schedule 15 Minutes Study Time Every Day

Study every day if you can. 15 minutes a day is better than 3 hours on Sunday. Most people need to schedule their study time. 15 minutes over coffee in the morning or instead of watching TV after dinner. You must schedule this time and stick to the schedule.

2. Keep Your Eye on Your Goals

Pay attention to excuses you offer yourself and remind yourself about your goals. The TV show may be fantastic, but you won’t remember the show in 10 years.

What’s really important here? Study 15 minutes a day for 10 years and your Chinese will be amazing!

3. Study Vocabulary and Memorize the Tones

Practice saying the words. Practice the tones. Memorize every useful word you can find. You must memorize and use the tones. Chinese people don’t group words according to how they sound and might understand you based on context, but you need to get enough right or you will be speaking gibberish. It is worth going slowly and getting this right.

4. Memorize Patterns and Practice the Tones (some more!)

Practice shifting from tone to tone as you memorize the patterns. Start with the last word in the sentence. Work your way to the front by adding a word or two for each repitition.

Try writing out the tones and practice flowing from tone to tone. You can even hum the tones when practicing a sentence. Then do the same tones with words.

There is a lot of memorization and practice with the tones. Once you become used to switching from tone to tone in different patterns, you will find mastering the language will come faster.

5. As you move forward, review, review review

When you hit chapter 5, don’t just study chapter 5. Go back and review the vocabulary from chapter 2.

Study the words. Practice the tones and patterns. Think of different situations that you could use these patterns.

Make up a conversation or two for that situation.

We’re happy to review different conversations and help you improve them.

How to Use Skritter to Learn Chinese even Faster!

Write Chinese Characters – Hong Tu has recently started recommending Skritter for our students learn to write Chinese. It’s a great tool to help you learn how to write Chinese. In this review, I’m going to tell you why I like it and then discuss a few ways that the tool could be improved.


The Good

The Writing Interface

I have enjoyed learning to write Chinese with Skritter.

Here is how it works: you develop a list of characters you want to learn.  Then you click study. Skritter will give you the PinYin. You then have to write the character on a writing square. The square is broken into 4 boxes and each box is cut in half. This creates a look of spokes inside a square “wheel” and gives you a reference to judge how each stroke should look in relation to each other.

There are a few ways to write Chinese characters. You can either use your mouse, a writing tool on your computer. If you have an iPad, you can trace the character with your fingers.

Skritter will not accept strokes that are completely wrong. It does accept and correct strokes that are close. I love this feature!  The feedback helps me improve my writing almost without effort. I just learn what each stroke and the Chinese character “should” look like.  If you don’t like this feature, you can always turn it off in the settings. Just click Write Raw Squigs. Skritter won’t correct you until you complete the word.

Finally if you use the wrong stroke order, Skritter will let you know by flashing the stroke that you should have written first. If you do the stroke in the wrong direction, there will be a flash with a note saying backward.

When you get the character right, it turns green.  You then get the chance to pick the tone for the word. After you get that right, you hear a voice saying the word with the correct tone. This has helped me memorize the tones.


Virtual Flashcards

Eventually Skritter will switch into other modes. The next feature is a flashcard. Skritter will display a Chinese character or a series of Chinese characters. You then think of the word in your head, you click the character and a voice will say the word and the English will pop onto the screen. This is an excellent drill to help you memorize the meaning of the word and the tones.


It Could Be Better

One thing that could improve at Skritter is the Android interface. There is no Android App. You can only access the site from some Android devices. So if you use Android phones or tablets, Skritter is just not as helpful. You can still use your laptop or computer, but that’s not as good.


Overall We Like Skritter

In fact, we like Skritter so much that we’ve purchased a license to offer Skritter to our students. In a few months, we’ll follow this post with an update including reviews from students.


What Do You Think of Skritter?

You can get a 1 week free trial here on We would love your thoughts on Skritter in the comments section!

When You Should Consider Private Chinese Lessons

We believe that group lessons are ideal for most people, most of the time. You should consider private lessons if you require a flexible schedule, need to learn specific material or want to study at your own pace.

Flexible Schedule

If you must miss a lesson, it is very difficult for us to reschedule group lesson. We can offer the ability to check in with the teacher for five minutes after the class, but this is often not enough for people who are extremely busy. It also won’t work if your schedule changes every week. In that case private lessons make the most sense. We will work together to identify a good schedule for you. When you do need to reschedule we will do our best to offer you a variety of potential meeting times.

Specific Language or Vocabulary Needs

While we can answer specific questions, we can’t create a program around specialized vocabulary in a group class. We have worked together with professionals to develop a specific program designed specifically for them. This makes sense if you already have a strong base in Mandarin and want to develop your skill in a specific professional area. For example, we worked with an accountant to help her master vocabulary and patterns used in the field of accounting

Study at Your Own Pace

When you are in a group lesson, the class has to move at the pace of the group. Private lessons allow us to cater the lesson to your exact needs. We can move along quickly in areas that come easy to you and more slowly with more review time when you struggle. This allows you to move as fast (or slow) as you like.

If you are intimidated by learning languages, you might want to start off in private lessons until you get the basics down. Once you’ve mastered the basics we can move you into a group lesson slightly behind you in progress. This will help you feel comfortable speaking and benefit from interacting and practicing with the group.

More Time Practicing One on One with a Native Speaker

We consider private lessons both a language lesson and a “language coaching session.” We challenge you to master the material quickly.

You are Pushed to Excel for the Entire Hour

You will not have to watch as the instructor helps others. You will interact one on one with a native speaker for the entire hour. You will also have the option to purchase additional hours and double your exposure.

Language Coaching

We will help you set language goals, master the material and then speak Chinese. At the start of each month, we will set up a goal of what you’d like to accomplish. We will then help you break down that goal into weekly steps and plan to study every day. At the end of the month, we will evaluate your progress and adjust accordingly.

What is the Best Fit for You?

Some people function best when learning with others. They set up study groups and work hard to learn together. They thrive off of the energy other’s provide and give back to the class.

Other people need to study alone. They push against their own standard of perfection and do best when challenged to produce exceptional results.

Register For Private Lessons Today

You Shouldn’t Learn Chinese If…

If You Don’t Really Want To Learn Chinese

If you don’t have a burning desire to learn Chinese, it’s not worth starting. We believe it’s easy to learn Chinese, but it still requires time and effort. Learning a language requires deep motivation to carry you through the rough patches. At some point, you just won’t understand something. You will eventually understand it, but it might take time, effort and commitment. You need to know that it will take consistent effort to master the language. You don’t need to study 5 hours a day. You will need to study for 15 to 30 minutes on a very regular basis.


If You Can’t Afford to Take Classes

If you can’t afford lessons, you might not be able to study long enough for it to matter. You have to be prepared to pay for class for a year or two. Furthermore, there are really two costs to studying Chinese: Time and Money. For some, time is a barrier. For others, it is money. Be be sure you have enough time and money. If not, you’ll end up wasting both.


If You Expect to be Fluent in a Year

There are companies that promise you fluency in 10 days. Frankly, you won’t get there in a year. Even if you study really hard. You might get there in two if you study quite hard.

If you expect to be fluent in a year, you will probably get frustrated and give up. You need to focus on small baby steps and make progress each month.


 If You Have to be Perfect

We encourage people to be a serious student of the Chinese language. We encourage people to develop advanced language skills. We want to help you become fluent.

But you won’t be perfect. Ever. Actually, you need to make mistakes, try again and make more mistakes. If you aren’t willing to do that, then you will not become fluent in Chinese. I took the risk of making mistakes. You will hear stories of some really funny ones! It was completely worth it for me. I hope it is for you too.

Hong Tu Opens Denver Office

We are proud to announce that we’re opening a full time office in Denver.

The address is 110 16th Street, Suite 502B Denver, Co 80202.

The building is located on the southwest corner of 16th and Broadway. There is a Dazbog Coffee Shop on the first floor.

We are opening a new class in Denver on Thursday, August 9th.

Please contact us here if you would like to join the class.