Building blocks are a bit like the alphabet in English:all the words and characters in Chinese are built up from these 200 or so simple characters (they are also very unlike the alphabet in other ways. We will come onto that later)
Your understanding of Chinese can also be built up from these basic blocksVery quickly* you will recognise enough characters to be able to make sense of a Chinese menu *times will of course vary from person to person, but normally it takes a few hours of time on the course)
But characters are only one side of the Chinese language... ...as well as reading, you are also going to need to be ableto make yourself understood, ask questions and understand the answers.
This course will teach you to do all of these:Some levels will help you to read the characters on menus(which is both what I found most important to be able to read when in China, and is most likely to impress your mates)
Other levels will build up your vocabulary of spokenChinese, and other levels again will teach you the questionsthat you will need to ask to get around in China, and how to answer them
In between the vocab levels there will be little slideshows like this, that will give context and explain anything at all complicated......but don’t worry - for all its reputation for being a difﬁcult language, Chinese is very simple in its grammar, so there won’t be too much need for that!
The next level will introduce the basics of spoken Chinese
Before you do this, there are a three of things that you should know: First: Chinese is a tonal language Second: the “tone” of each syllable is shown by little lines above the vowels Third: DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE TONES!
I don’t mean that the tones of the words aren’t important: They are.
I just mean that you don’t need to worry too much about them:When you learn each new word, be careful to listen hard to the audio recording. If you are in a private place, and/or can face theembarrassment, try to repeat the word out loud, matching the pronunciation as closely as you can
But don’t worry yourself about actually knowing what the tone is supposed to be, or what “tones” are supposed to represent *Chinese children** can speak Chinese with faultless tones, but they have no idea which word is supposed to be which. They just copy what they hear.*in truth, it still seems a bit of an odd concept to me, you can ﬁnd out more about my thoughts onthat on the blog**and, in fact, in my own totally English daughter is a constant reminder of this - check out this blog post about her experiences learningto speak Chinese.
So why not follow their example:Copy the sounds, but don’t waste time worrying about which type of tone it is.You can do that later in your studies, if you really want to.