Out of all the languages, Mandarin Chinese is one of the most difficult to learn.

The literacy rate in Mainland China is 97%. But that’s only because learning Mandarin is strongly encouraged.

In reality, Chinese is just plain hard for both native-speaking kids and adult students.

So people learning Chinese as a second language should celebrate their milestones.

Here are some you will hit on your journey to fluency.


1.  Mastering Pinyin

You can’t distinguish words and tones without mastering pinyin first.

2.  Writing Your First Character from Memory

This is a huge step in memorizing words. Pat yourself on the back.

3.  Mastering Numbers, Dates and Times

You can’t set schedules or understand prices without mastering numbers, dates and times. 

4.  Mastering the Culture Behind Personal Greetings

Chinese greetings are more intrusive than Western greetings. But questions like “Where are you going?”, “Did you eat yet?” and “Did you gain weight?” are supposed to be friendly ways to show you care.

5.  Being Able to Introduce Yourself

At this point you should be able to speak the basics.

6.  Mastering Color

You can’t shop online without knowing colors.

7.  Mastering Weather Terms

Now you can make small talk. 

8.  Learning Your First 5 Measure Words

You’re becoming sophisticated at describing quantities.

9.  Writing Your First Sentence

You’re more comfortable with characters and grammar rules.

10. Learning How to Address Different People

Start calling blue-collar workers “师傅 Shīfù Craftmaster” and stop calling your coworker “同志 Tóngzhì Comrade.” 

阿姨 (Āyí) - Any lady old enough to be your mother.

11. Answering Questions for the First Time

Now you have the building blocks of a conversation.

12. Learning Home and Clothing Vocabulary

You have more conversation fuel.

13. Describing Body Parts and Pain

You need to be able to describe accidents or sickness.



14. Understanding Spoken Warnings and Recommendations from Officials

Doctors, police officers and grandmothers all have something they may want to warn you about.

15. Recognizing the Radicals in Written Chinese

Now you can see the difference between characters like  and .

16. Learning the Chinese Names of All The Foods You Like

17. Mastering Sign Vocabulary

Now you can understand public posters.

18. Being Able to Order Food at a Restaurant.

Now you are a sociable member of Chinese-speaking society.

19. Differentiating When Cantonese Is Spoken Instead of Mandarin.

You understand the difference between accents and other forms of Chinese.

20. Saying Sentences with the Main Subject Last and Context First

You’re getting used to Chinese syntax. 

21. Holding a Conversation For 2 Minutes

22. Being Able to Copy a Character You See Only Briefly

Chinese characters are becoming familiar to you.

23. Writing Your First Paragraph

Now you can convey complex thoughts in Chinese.

24. Mastering Location Words

25. Giving and Following Directions 

Now you can help others and talk to strangers.



26. Understanding Strangers Speaking Chinese

Your ear is trained in Chinese enough to understand anyone of any age or gender.

27. Being Able to Take a Taxi

Now you have the right words to handle critical tasks.

28. Understanding 辛苦了

You can correctly use common phrases like a native Chinese speaker.

29. Describing Appearance, Personalities and Feelings

This will come in handy for talking about your family, friends or enemies

30. Knowing How to Use 150 Verbs

At this point you are getting close to minimum fluency.

31. Having Your First Ten Minute Conversation 

32. Solving Your First Dispute

Now you have language to confront mistakes.

33. Mastering Computer and Telecommunication Vocabulary

This is important if you want to start working in China.

34. Mastering 60 Measure Words

This knowledge means you are close to minimum fluency. 

35. Understanding Public Radio Announcements

36. Understanding a Character with Many Different Meanings

You are much better at inferring the meaning of sentences and differentiating characters that look similar.

37. Making Your First Joke

Now you understand Chinese language and culture in a fun way.

38. Remembering Idioms

Once you start understanding Chinese culture, you’ll be able to remember complex idioms.

39. Being Able to Follow Some Dialogue in Chinese Podcasts

Now you have reached minimum fluency. Keep studying to become a master!

If you have any additions to this list comment below.

And make sure to share this list to your Chinese learning friends! 

Are you a Mandarin learner? Are you down for a Free Trip to China?
For the detail of the contest and how to apply, go to 
< www.chinosity.com/whyspeakchinese2020 >

What's Your Reaction?

confused confused
fail fail
fun fun
geeky geeky
hate hate
lol lol
love love
omg omg
win win

One Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Right now learning Chinese, it is not so difficult to learn but as we do not have practice environment it look hard. I think Chinese is a special and loving language.

Sadezia Ulcena
Black, American, Caribbean, Country, and City Girl. I'm a global citizen and I want to bridge an understanding of Chinese culture with my own.
Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format