During my travels around China people often said to me “Your Chinese is better than mine.” When I adamantly denied even the remote possibility that their assertion may be true, they would clarify: “Your Putonghua is better than mine.”
Today there are almost unlimited resources for learning Chinese, and many of them are available online for free. Herewith is my list of nine recommended online resources.
Earlier in the summer, I had the chance to meet a family that was in the process of moving to China. Among other things they wanted to know about resources to help their young children learn Chinese.
When I was living in China, newcomers, especially those who had been around for a few weeks or months and had started to pick up some new words and phrases, would often ask me, “what does ju (or some other word) mean?”
Learning Chinese is a big task, but learning how to use the language to accomplish simple, everyday tasks is not. You may never, like Matteo Ricci, translate Chinese classics or write books in Chinese yourself. But even Ricci had to start with the basics, learning the sounds, the tones, and the simple vocabulary to accomplish the stuff of everyday life.
Pinyin is a system of writing the sounds of Chinese using English letters—an indispensable tool for learning to speak Chinese.
If you are going to learn Chinese, you first have to know what it is, or it least what it's called.