Starting to Learn Mandarin Chinese

After years of haphazardly studying Mandarin I’ve decided to make a more concerted effort, with the ultimate goal of becoming “fluent” in 15 years (by the end of 2030). Hopefully posting this will further encourage me not to give up.

Things to Learn

Here’s an incomplete list of topics/things to learn:

  • Character radicals/components
  • Characters
  • Tones
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Words
  • Listening
  • Meaning
  • Pronunciation
  • Reading
  • Grammar
  • Phrases

A Few Helpful Resources

After reading the book Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget it, which I’d wholeheartedly recommend to anyone thinking of learning a new language, I’ve come up with the following plan.


I’ve also decided to learn Bopomofo (Zhuyun) which is mainly used in Taiwan (台灣).

  • February: Learn all Bopomofo
  • Read + Writing
  • Listening + Recall
  • March: Bopomofo pronunciation
  • Practice being able to say sounds as accurately as possible
  • April: Learn 50 most common radicals
  • Connect objects to each radical
  • Sounds
  • Stroke order
  • December 2016: Work through the 625 word list, adding radicals as required
  • What does <hanzi> mean?
  • How to pronounce <hanzi> (remembering tone)
  • What does pinyin/Bopomofo/IPA sound like and what does the word mean
  • What is pinyin/Bopomofo for <sound> + <image>
  • Write hanzi for <sound> + <image>
  • 2017: Find a good grammar book and use sentences from it to learn
  • New words
  • Word forms
  • Word order
  • Need to look into tones and how they change when combined
  • Feb 2018: Learn top 1000 words
  • Should be able to use mono lingual dictionary for the remaining 500 to help learn words from definitions
  • 2018:
  • More selective grammar from book
  • Read books while listening to audio book
  • Mid-2019:
  • Watch dubbed (or native) TV series, reading episode summaries beforehand
  • 2019: Practice and start on next 1k words
  • 2020: Next 1k words
  • 2025: learn more words and practice makes perfect

I sometimes think this plan is too easy, but other times think it’s too hard. It’s probably about right for the amount of time I have but I will keep adjusting it as I progress.