Speaking Chinese is the best way to grow your vocabulary

Sometimes, students find it hard to speak Chinese. They have something to say, but can not find the right words for it. 

Some students blame themselves for not learning more Chinese words, or not memorising all the words taught in their Chinese textbooks. They believe that, if they know more words, they will speak better Chinese. 

Only, only if they can memorise all the new words they are taught!

Chinese words

However, I think these students got the cause and effect reversed. It should be the other way around.

Memorising all the words ≠ Speak fluent Chinese

Suppose a students who has memorised all the words in his textbook, can he speak fluent Chinese?

The answer is no. 

I had my personal experience.  

Many years ago, I firmly believed that the reason that I couldn't speak English well was because I did not have enough vocabulary. And the best way to increase my vocabulary is memorising large amount of new words in a short time. 

To achieve my goal, I bought a book, English Vocabulary 10,000, and thought this book was going to save me. Vocabulary would never be my obstacle any more. I could speak anything I wanted and I would always find the right words. 

I studied the book day and night. It took me four or five months to get through the book from cover to cover. 

Occasionally, I asked my roommates to test me. I got everything right. 

My goal was achieved, but I still couldn't speak English. 

It was still the same. After saying “hello, how are you? I am fine. Thank you. My name is ..., and I am from …”, I still could not find the right words to express myself coherency. 

Later I joined a speaking class, and found out that I knew lots of words but most of them were dormant. My listening was also a problem.

After attending the class for some time, my English speaking ability improved, so did my listening ability and the vocabulary I could use. 

I learned my lesson the hard way, so you don’t have to.

Speak more leads to more vocabulary

When your goal is to speak fluent Chinese, the first step to take is to speak.

Humans forget things we don’t have active use for. Therefore, the focus is on how to increase the opportunities for you to use all the words you’ve learned. 

If you do not speak enough Chinese, do not genuinely communicate with people in Chinese, all the words you’ve learned are dormant words, which are similar to the words in a dictionary. They are there, but they are nearly useless.

There are many ways to speak more Chinese, asking for information, sharing an experience, presenting an idea, criticising a social ill, and so on.

Besides growing vocabulary, you’ll have more fun learning Chinese, better than memorising words by yourself.

Next time you want to speak fluent Chinese, try this effective, enjoyable and long lasting method.


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April Zhang
Chinese Teacher
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