How to learn Chinese in 52 weeks without taking class or visiting China

You can learn to speak and read Chinese in 52 weeks without any classes. I did it in 100, but with the full roadmap you can do better. All items here were tested and 100% approved.

Step One: Pronounce Like a Pro
Chinese has 2 vowel sounds and 2 consonants that English doesn't. Also, it's a tonal language, so there's intonation as a critical part of speech. So what does that mean? It means you need to practice hard core off the bat so you don't sound retarded when speaking or learn bad habits. Spend three months with Pimsleur and go as far as you can.

This is nonstop listen, speak, listen, speak. Do it in your car on the way to work, and follow all instructions. If you walk to work and people see you on the street, they will think you are homeless and crazy talking to yourself. If that makes you uncomfortable, you will fail. Within six months, your pronunciation (but not vocabulary) will exceed even white people on the Chinese TV shows. Yes really. Update: I made an iOS app that helps you pronounce any language at

Step Two: Study in Your Free Time
Download an app on your phone that can subscribe to podcasts, which are short audio shows that you can listen to when you want. Here are the best podcasts:
  • Chinese Learn Online - starts at beginner and goes all the way, each lesson building progressively
  • Popup Chinese - funny shit, you'll laugh the whole time and that helps, lessons are available in tiers... beginner, intermediate, ...
Beware when learning, different people have different dialects. The Beijing dialect is "standard Mandarin" (in Pimsleur, and Popup Chinese) and Taiwan dialect would make even Sylvester Stallone sound like a woman.

Step Three: Learn Basic Character Writing
Chinese characters are written a specific way, the order of the strokes is specified. Also, The characters are constructed in a certain way, so if you recognize some of the character parts you might be able to pick up a book and at least see what a word is related to. Example:
Animal part:犭  Dog: 狗  Cat: 猫  Pig: 
Find someone on Craigslist, Live Mocha or a local college who can show these basic concepts to you. Meanwhile, you teach them English. This is called a "language exchange". Maximum two months to learn character construction.

Step Four: Get Books
Now you have a full understanding of how Chinese words are spoken (and can impress locals), can respond to a few common situations (taught in Pimsleur), have a source of funny lessons to follow in your spare time, know how to draw weird looking letter things and have +1 friends. It's been all fun and games so far, time to get serious.

Also now is a good time to make Chinese friends and attend some social events. Me? I took it down by playing cards, some options are 三国杀, 斗地主 and 拖拉机.

Bonus: Advanced Stuff
By now, you are about 52 weeks into your studies and probably listening to the "Intermediate" level podcasts and can easily read 200 characters. Here are awesome ways to get beyond that.
P.S. Since you read this whole article before even starting, looks like you enjoy details. Don't bother with Rosetta Stone. Unless you are 50+ year old woman, you aren't dedicated enough to spend hundreds of hours in front of a computer without stopping for Facebook, Gmail and less savory websites.


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