Zi ("字"): In the English translation, this Chinese term is translated to "Chinese characters", which does not fully reflect the basic characteristics of the concept of the Chinese word "Zi". It is easy for learners to wrongly associate Zi with the "Character" in other languages.
In Speedy Mandarin, instead of "Chinese character", "Zi" is used to represent the original three-dimensional concept, Sound-Glyph-Meaning, of the basic unit of Chinese language.
Ci ("词"): Again although translated as "Word", Ci is not exactly the same as "word". Though affixes and stem are common in some English words, they are not used alone in sentences, nor the part of speech can be dynamically changed.
In Speedy Mandarin, instead of "Word", "Ci" is used to represent a commonly used combination of two or more Zi, which has certain meaning in Chinese language.
Less to Learn
Vocabulary accumulation is inevitable in the process of learning any language.
Francis and Kucera (1982) suggested that the 2,000 most frequent word families of English make up 79.7% of the individual words in any English text, the 3,000 most frequent word families represent 84%, the 4,000 most frequent word families make up about 86.7%， and the 5,000 most frequent word families cover 88.6%.
While in Chinese, the most commonly used 500 Zi covers 71%, 1,000 Zi covers 84%, the coverage of 1,600 Zi reaches 93.6%.
It is a common situation that one might not be familiar with a Ci, but the composition of the two Zi are recognizable. In 80% of such situations, one can directly understanding the meaning of the new Ci, due to each Zi has its intrinsic meaning. While normally you can hardly guess a meaning of a unknown English word.
Commonly, English learner need to know 2000 words to understand about 80% content of text or conversation in the first stage, and master 20000 words to be able to communicate freely in English. While Chinese learners need to know only 500 Zi to reach 80% content understanding. There are only 5072 Zi used in the 19 novels written by Mo Yan, the Nobel laureate in Literature, containing over 8 million Zi in total.
Easy to Learn
Association is the most important tool in learning any language.
As based on the development of hieroglyphs, each Zi itself contains image information. Radicals contained in one Zi is the base of association, the combination of Zi to form Ci is a higher level extension of the thinking process, and the multiple Ci form sentences furthers such extension.
Learning Chinese is a process hard to get started but could be rapidly progressed afterwards. Once the Chinese thinking process of constructing Ci, phrases, and sentences is mastered, learning Chinese will be very simple and authentic language and be easily used.
It might not be acceptable to people familiarizing with Western language learning methods. But thinking in a different way, once there is no grammar, there is no time spent on learning it, which could greatly improving the efficiency of learning.
The so-called grammar, is a set of rules and regulations define the positions of words in the sentences and the form changing of words. However, in Chinese, form of Ci will never change, no tense, no articles, no gender, no honorifics, no singular or plural form, no nominative no accusative form, no automatic movement, in fact, there is even no clear definition of part of speech.
All the modern Chinese grammar is created based on the experiences and summaries of Western linguistics grammar, and imposed on the Chinese language, which is no need to learn.
The glyph is hard to remember, especially to western people. It is even harder for learner to write Zi accurately, if one is not good at graphic symbol memorizing and could not find the law of memory.
Difficult pronunciation. For the same Zi or Ci, different tones represent different meanings in Chinese. One need to repeatedly practice to enhance the pronunciation skills, otherwise it easily leads to misunderstanding.
The number of basic unit, Zi, is relatively large, thus the learning order is critical. However it is not the most effective or efficient way to learn Zi in accordance only with the Zi’s frequency usage table.
In order to achieve the fastest learning effect, the association and relationship between Zi and Zi, Zi and Ci, the ability of Ci formation, the matching structure of the sentence are all the keys to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of learning Chinese.
Chinese Learning is both accumulation of knowledge and practices of skills.
Glyph memorizing, pronunciation practice, meaning understanding are all skill training part, which requires the learners’ own efforts and time to repeatedly practicing to be proficient in. During this process a set of training programme and tools are much more helpful than having a teacher and will greatly shorten the required time.
It is not easy to accomplish through simple repeated training for learner to master the integration of knowledge and skills, such as how to use the Ci in sentences in a flexible and accurate way, and what is the effect of different Ci order, tone, and context. The guidance from teacher with clear objective is necessary.
Many Chinese Ci, in addition to their own meaning, will be derived with a unique meaning in a specific context. Such cultural knowledge experience can be acquired and accumulated through massive readings. Although teacher’s participation is not essential, these knowledge can be topics of conversation or in-depth discussion with teachers.
Adopting scientific methodology, the teaching materials arrange the learning order of Zi taking into account both the learning efficiency and practicality.
Providing automatic voice recognition, under the lead of real voice learners can enhance their pronunciation through repeated practice with real time automated pronunciation rating.
Modularized Zi memorizing method with process-oriented memory tools, learners can remember 16 Zi at one time, which is a substantial increase in learning efficiency.
De-emphasizing the grammar, through practicing the structure of sentences, learner can possess the natural habit which result in the effect of blurting out.
Reducing the interference of PinYin to the actual pronunciation by learing Zi first and using Zi to learn PinYin.
Limiting the learning time of writing Zi by using PinYin for writing, which is also the trend in Internet Era.
The learning of each lesson is generally divided into three stages.
First stage: within about 1 hour, learn 16 Zi including the pronunciations, glyphs and meanings. This stage can be achieved through self-learning with APP. Or can also be achieved with teacher's online or offline counseling. Teachers’ role at this stage is not essential, mainly to help correct the pronunciation.
Second stage: within about 1 hour, to understand the meaning of Ci and using the sentence structure to practice and memorize. This stage must be under the guidance of the teacher.
Finally, the third stage: after-class review. By reading evolution process of the meaning of Zi and Ci, as well as some common sense of Chinese culture to expand the knowledge, and understanding of the characteristics of the Chinese thinking mode.
Language learning requires clear objectives and practical timeframes.
Our advice is to learn a lesson every day, thus to complete a unit in 4 days; the fifth day is utilized for the unit review; rest for two days before the start of the next unit;
To complete the study of Level one and learn 256 Zi in one month. With a day or two to review level one and learn some PinYin during typing training.
According to this schedule, in 2 months learner can learn the most commonly used 500 Zi or more and have the initial Chinese communication abilities.
In 4 months, learners can learn more than 1,000 Zi to meet the language needs for daily life in China.
Learners can master 1600 words in 6 month and possess the Chinese language ability for general work and study in China.