If you want to understand a country, learning words and grammar is not enough - you also need to understand culture and social norms. Every text and illustration in our book contains cultural clues to help you socialize and make friends in China.
In the first lesson, we will help you find a Chinese name for yourself. As you go through the course, you will continue to learn specific vocabulary directly linked to your personal ambition and interests.
The ChineseMe experience is based on an interactive textbook. Sure, apps with games and other gimmicks may help you to study a foreign language – but the most fundamental tool is always having a pedagogically organised reference textbook with useful and fun dialogs. ChineseMe is totally personalised; you can follow the lessons at your own pace while enjoying the interactive content.
Every lesson has been carefully developed to help you learn things in the right order. Words come back regularly, before you can forget them. Pronunciation, vocabulary and sentence patterns are continuously reinforced through integrated interactive exercises. We believe this method is by far the fastest and most effective way of mastering Mandarin Chinese.
Mastering pronunciation right from the beginning is crucial to making progress in Chinese. We focus on teaching you the sounds of the language and not just how to spell them in pinyin. Every character, word, example sentence and dialog comes with audio recordings by some of China’s best-known radio hosts, so that you learn the correct, official accent. Audio files are available at two speeds - “slow" and “natural" – and we use several voices to get you used to listening to different people.
The course is built on sentence patterns - the ideal way of learning Chinese grammar without complicated theoretical explanations. And when we do explain grammatical structures, we use terms and ideas that have been developed especially for Mandarin Chinese. Every word and example has been carefully selected for maximum usefulness, and we continuously incorporate student feedback to improve the course.
Chinese characters take a lot of effort to learn. We try to make this easier by focusing on the most common characters first, and maximizing the words you can build using already memorised characters. We are also the first course ever to integrate both calligraphy and character etymology as mnemonic aids.
Every lesson comes with interactive exercises that help you understand and remember the elements and concepts you learn in the course. You decide which exercises, and how many, you want to do. When you feel ready, you can take an exam to make sure you've mastered the lesson.
Johan is a Swedish entrepreneur, a prolific author as well as a radio- and TV host and the founder of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China. He is a dedicated language learner and speaks six languages. After learning Russian at the Swedish Armed Forces Language School, he studied Chinese and then spent two years at Peking University (北京大学) studying Chemistry and Mathematics as the only non-Chinese student in the natural sciences department. He later founded several companies in China, including a record company, a radio and TV production business, and the PR firm Eastwei Relations, which became one of China’s largest communications consultancies with over 200 employees in four cities. He also worked as a radio and TV presenter for eight years, hosting over 400 of his own weekly Chinese programmes. Johan has a Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry from Uppsala University.
Tim is a French entrepreneur and language nerd who started learning Chinese at the age of 14 and immediately fell in love with the Chinese language and culture. Three years later, he moved to Taiwan and spent a year studying Chinese at the National Taoyuan Senior High School (國立桃園高級中學). During his business studies in Paris, focusing on entrepreneurhip, e-business and web-marketing, he developed the initial blueprints for the ChineseMe concept. He is now CTO at ChineseMe, responsible for technical development and marketing. Tim has a Master’s degree in Management Science from leading French business school ESSEC and an MBA from Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management (光华管理学院). To learn more about Tim and the ChineseMe project, watch his 2016 interview on Chinese National Television news program CCTV News.
Author of China – Empire of Living Symbols and Guest Professor, Beijing Language and Culture University
"Finally, a systematic textbook in Chinese where pronunciation, sentence patterns, character etymology and calligraphy are integrated pedagogically. I have been waiting for years for a course like this!"
Some people claim that learning Chinese is more difficult than learning other languages. Mandarin Chinese is exotic and different - but many people learn it surprisingly quickly! The key, in our opinion, is to focus on the right things, and use concepts and methods that are especially designed for Chinese rather than adapted from courses in Western languages. So if you like challenging yourself and learning things that are completely different from what you are used to, learning Chinese is not difficult. It's just different.
Some language learners try to focus on pīnyīn, skipping the characters entirely. This might look like a reasonable choice if you focus on speaking and are not so interested in reading and writing. But in our experience, it is more difficult to memorize Chinese vocabulary without understanding the meaning of the characters that make up each word. If you want to go beyond a few basic tourist phrases, you will need to be able to read characters.
Just like us, people in China write mainly by using electronic input methods. If you have great memory for pictures, you can choose to skip writing characters by hand, and simply learn how to recognize them. That way, you can type characters on your devices. But most people find it easier to remember the characters if they practice writing by hand.
Practicing calligraphy is not something you have to do to learn Chinese. But many people find it enjoyable. The aesthetic principles help us develop a feel for the logic of how Chinese characters have been put together; the rhythm of writing each stroke makes the whole character come alive. After just a short while of practice, this will help you to see the characters in a new way.
Some people have been in China for ages and speak little or no Chinese. Others have good grammar and vocabulary but their pronunciation is so bad that Chinese people can’t understand even their most basic sentences. But the structure of Mandarin Chinese is not difficult - with the right method, you can quickly start to communicate on basic topics. If you focus on the right things, such as pronunciation and characters, you will get a good feel for the language within a few months to a year. After that, all you need to do is grow your vocabulary.
We think a carefully structured course integrating pronunciation, vocabulary, sentence patterns and culture in a single package is the most effective way of studying Chinese. This is why we created ChineseMe - the “anti-Duolingo” of Chinese language learning!
Trying to find the best online resources for Chinese is like panning for gold. There are hundreds of sites, some of them with slick design, claiming to “make Chinese easy”. Few are very useful, but it can be hard for beginners to tell the difference. Below, we highlight a few gold nuggets.
These are free of charge as long as you help others correct assignments in your own language.