Fun and Effective Mandarin lessons

By. Christy Laoshi

If there is one language in the world that’s worth to learn, it’s Mandarin. Mandarin is not difficult; it’s just different. Mandarin is a tonal language. When we combine words and tones, the rhythm and tone are similar to rap music. Also, the writing system used in Mandarin is unlike that used by most other languages because words are not represented by letters which tell you the pronunciation. Hanzi (Chinese characters) are drawn, not spelled. For example: 


The word for ‘person’ () originally depicted a man with two legs.


Many students like the visual aspect of written Hanzi (Chinese characters). Hanzi originates from drawings and these origins can be seen in many characters, the example below:  


When introduced to these Hanzi, many students say that the Hanzi looks like pictures and they can easily see the meaning. Besides, the Chinese language is also logical. Some students can use their imagination to figure out the meaning of words, for example:  

  •  Panda (literally ‘bear’ and ‘cat’) 
  •  Birthday  (literally ‘born’ and ‘day’) 
  •  Family member (literally ‘house/home’ and ‘people’)
  •  Computer  (literally ‘electric’ and ‘brain’) 
  •  Breakfast  (the words for ‘morning’ and ‘meal’) 
  • Get out of bed  (the words for ‘get up/stand up’ and ‘bed’)


Usually when studying a new chapter, some students complain and think Chinese is complicated, especially when writing new vocabulary. This is one of the reasons why teachers have to be more creative and come up with lots of ideas in the process of teaching and learning Mandarin in class. This is necessary with the aim of making Mandarin lessons more fun, interesting and reducing students’ stress when studying Mandarin. Here are some games and quizzes that students do in class that can hone their understanding of the vocabulary being studied.


  1. Pyramid game

This game introduces vocabulary and guides students to make sentences. For example, we can make the following sentence in English, after which they will translate it into Chinese. When sentences are formed in Mandarin, we build a pyramid like the one below:



My book 我的书

My Mandarin book 我的汉语书。

My older brother’s Mandarin book 我哥哥的汉语书。


  1. Flash card game 

The teacher shows Hanzi on a card and asks students to write the meaning in English. This game helps students to build confidence slowly, especially for the beginners.


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