If you are tired of writing the same Chinese character 20-30 times and still not remembering it, this is the solution you have been waiting for. My name is Edis Mustafa and my interest in Asian culture and language learning led me to my Sinology studies in Uni Hamburg. In this article, I will talk about my experience learning Chinese for the past 3 years and the 2 most effective ways I have discovered through trial, error, and research. As an efficiency crazed university student who has to work part-time and survive the semester at the same time, I was always looking for more effective ways to learn. That is how I discovered the methods “spaced repetition” and “sentence mining”.

Spaced Repetition: Vocabulary
The way my teacher told me to study vocabulary was by writing the characters until my hand fell off, but deep down I knew there is a better way to learn these difficult characters. I was coming up with all these different kinds of methods and testing them 1 by 1. Finally, I stumbled on this new method called spaced repetition and it was a game-changer.

It is scientifically proven that we learn better by trying to recall information just as we are about to forget it. In other words, forgetting is an important part of the learning process. The way this method works is by studying something and then giving yourself some time to forget it before you review it again. More specifically, you can use flashcards or if you are too lazy to make flashcards like me, then you can use free flashcard apps, such as Anki.

The app is available for Android and Apple phones, or even for desktop PC. You can decide to add specific words you want to learn or google “Anki decks” and find all kinds of vocabulary decks, including decks for HSK preparation. When using the app, there are 3 options. Depending on how sure you are you know a word you can click for the flashcard to come back in 1 minute, 10 minutes, or the next day. The more you go through the same card, the less frequently it appears. For example, 1 day, 2 days, a week, a month, etc. It is very simple to use and extremely effective.

Sentence Mining: Sentence Structure and Speaking.
Now, you solved the vocabulary problem, but there is more to language learning than just vocabulary. If you are like me, then you do not enjoy learning grammar and sentence structures. That is where the next method comes in handy.

Do you know how children learn to speak? They do not learn grammar like in school, they learn by copying their parents. The more a child hears the same sentence structure, the more he/she internalizes it. If the sentence is “He put a mug on the table” and the child hears different variations of this sentence, he/she will memorize it without having to learn the specific location of the subject, predicator, and object. Certain words are always located in the same place.
Sentence mining is just that, we can use the same method to accelerate our language learning. Just by learning set phrases and sentences. The good part is that you do not even need to buy a textbook to learn in this way, instead, you can just download Anki decks online. Some even have audio so you will hear a perfect pronunciation.

Learning Chinese can be difficult, but the correct systems will make it much easier. This article explores two scientifically proven ways to make your language learning journey easier and how exactly to apply them in your own learning. The methods are spaced repetition and sentence mining. Spaced repetition is about repeatedly studying the same information at certain intervals of time and recalling them just before you forget them. Sentence mining, on the other hand, copies the simple, but brilliant way in which children learn how to speak, in other words copying the sentences of their parents.

Find more out more about the author Edis and get in contact with him here.

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