Chinese Language Learning – How to learn Mandarin properly?

Hello! For those of you who were able to learn Mandarin at an advanced level, I’d like to ask what your methods are. What methods worked and didn’t work?

For starters, I’m not new in language learning. I grew up trilingual (fil/ilo/eng), and I have an experience in learning a fourth language at an advanced level (spa) as an adult. These 4 languages all have Latin-based writing systems.

For the past few years I’ve been dabbling with Japanese and Korean and some European ones, but I haven’t gotten to that threshold point of general comprehension because I usually lose interest. I just tried to see where those dabbling would lead me, and it lead me to Mandarin. I decided to stop dabbling on languages and set Mandarin as my next target language.

I intend to learn Mandarin for the next few years with the initial goal of reading and listening comprehension. I’m also fairly good in picking up tones, rhythm and intonation, so speaking would somehow be parallel to that goal, but not so much of a priority that I would feel obligated to find someone to talk to. Writing characters or writing in general is also not a priority, I’d rather type for now for efficiency while learning vocabulary/grammar. I also don’t do language classes or immersions because I find them time consuming. I prefer to self-study outside working hours.

Some may ask what my end goal is. Or objective, or motivation. Just like Spanish, I’m learning Mandarin for the hell of it. I like it and I want to learn it. Before anyone could lecture me, I already know that learning a language is a big commitment and that a good reason is sometimes necessary to tide someone over when they’re losing interest. For me, I just want to go to the nearest Chinatown and savor the experience. China is also becoming interesting nowadays and I might want to travel there someday. I also might look into their music and modern literature.

It’s not like I use Spanish in my profession, or I live somewhere in Spain or the Americas. But I still learned it enough to read works of Zafrón, Márquez, Neruda, etc., or even write simple essays. I’m fluent enough to sound like a native, but not articulate enough to pass a job interview or give an impromptu speech. I expect the same thing with Mandarin in a few years with twice the hard work, effort and time.

If you have some tricks under your sleeves that you can share to make learning Mandarin more efficient, I’d like to know. Thank you very much!

PS: Go to materials include — grammar books, graded reading books, pimsleur, duolingo/hellochinese, coffee break podcasts.

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