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Whenever our American coach is giving instruction to the team, one of our Chinese players or coaches will translate the message into Chinese for our players who don’t speak English very well.

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But after about a year of intensive self-study, and with the help of a tutor and my Chinese friends, I can now speak and read Chinese fluently at the HSK3 level (汉语水平三级).

Cell phone applications make a huge difference in learning Chinese, particularly in learning how to read the complex characters. This app has it all: dictionary, flash cards, audio (to help with pronunciation), and a ton of other features.

Whenever I sat in the metro or in a taxi for a long commute, I would open my phone to Pleco and go through flash cards and look up all the words I wanted to learn.

If you live in China (or plan to live in China) but don’t speak Chinese, this article is for you.

Although it’s technically possible to spend a long time in China without ever learning to speak or read 中文, your life here will be waaay more difficult that way.

In about a year, I was able to go from knowing virtually nothing about this complex language to being able to converse in basic Chinese and read over 800 characters.Here’s how you can, too: When I first arrived in China in 2013, the thought of actually being able to speak and read Chinese seemed like a joke to me.After a few weeks of quizzing myself and reading over the same Chinese characters over and over again, this seemingly impossible language finally stuck in my head. The more Chinese-speaking friends you have, the better your Chinese will become.The best ways to meet new Chinese friends is to get out and find people with similar interests in your city.Getting involved with clubs or sports teams will open doors for you to create language exchange opportunities.I play for the Shanghai Warriors American football team, which is a team comprised of 80% Chinese players.

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