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.”
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 饭 and 反.
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!