How to Integrate into Chinese Society as a Language Learner
The current political and economic situation in China motivates many foreign students to study Chinese and consider getting an education in China. Education is commonly cheaper in China than it is in Europe and the US. Moreover, the standard of living is high enough, and prices for essential goods are relatively low as well.
However, some students find it difficult to get used to living in China because they possess different mentalities than the Chinese mentality, and sometimes they also have language problems. To integrate into Chinese society at a faster pace, you can do the following:
Learn new characters
If you are not learning at least one new Chinese character (or hanzi) a day, then you are not learning fast enough. The best rate is three characters a day, as it pushes you just enough so can remember them later without too much trouble. Overloading your brain with new characters will be to your detriment.
Read a lot
How much do you read in Chinese? Do you try to at least read a paragraph or two from a story or news article each day? If not, your language proficiency will not improve swiftly. Reading also allows you to enter more into the cultural ideology of China and to understand life there to a greater extent.
Watch Chinese films
Though it sounds like lazy learning, watching Chinese films with English subtitles is a great way to use multiple senses for acquiring characters (hearing, reading, watching, listening) and to learn more about China’s history and culture. After watching many Chinese films, you might even start feeling Chinese yourself. You can even watch a reality show about foreigners who live in China: 《外国人在中国》.
Travel around the country
China is a huge country and offers many different regional cultures. To understand Chinese life in a comprehensive way, travel to different ends of the country. The worst thing to do is to stay in one place in China and assume you know what being Chinese is like.
Communicate with native speakers
Reading, listening, and writing in Chinese is great for practice, but unless and until you communicate with native speakers, your language proficiency will not grow fast. Plus, when you communicate with native speakers, you will gain a larger understanding of Chinese culture, of mistakes you are making in your speech and writing, and of many unexpected things about China.
Write in Chinese
Writing in Chinese is no easy task, however it can greatly improve your understanding of signs, restaurant menus, and even contribute to your speaking. A lot of people cannot remember characters properly until they have seen it written down.
Attend language courses
Studying by yourself can be a lonely endeavor. Learning in a social environment can give you added motivation, interaction, and help in the process of learning this often-noted most difficult language of the world.
Delve into Chinese culture
Chinese culture is ancient, as most know. Reading deeply into the history of China will supply you with a new perspective on China as a whole, past and present. The more you learn about China as a country, with its etiquette, rituals, ceremonies, and traditions, the more you will feel at home and motivated to be a part of this great country’s life.
As an ending note, cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou are the most popular for foreigners to live in. Major cities are more expensive to live in, but also more comfortable. But whatever city you choose in China to live in, do your best to understand its history, traditions, and peculiarities.